Original Research

Experiences of community caregivers in the assessment of malnutrition using mid-upper arm circumference measurement in children under 5 years old

Gabisile P. Ndlovu, Dudu G. Sokhela, Maureen N. Sibiya
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a1743 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v10i1.1743 | © 2018 Dudu G. Sokhela, Ndlovu P. Gabisile, Maureen N. Sibiya | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 January 2018 | Published: 30 August 2018

About the author(s)

Gabisile P. Ndlovu, Health Unit, eThekwini Municipality, South Africa
Dudu G. Sokhela, Department of Nursing, Durban University of Technology, South Africa
Maureen N. Sibiya, Department of Nursing, Durban University of Technology, South Africa


Background: Malnutrition is a major public health challenge in developing countries. It has been identified as an important cause of child mortality and morbidity and leads to inadequate physical and cognitive development in children. The South African government implemented a strategy for malnutrition assessment in children under 5 years by community caregivers (CCGs), who would then refer children at risk or those having developed malnutrition to primary health care clinics. Irrespective of this strategy, children still present at clinics with severe malnutrition.

Aim: The aim of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of community caregivers with the assessment of malnutrition in children under 5 years old.

Setting: The study was conducted in North Area six of eThekwini district in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Methods: A qualitative, exploratory descriptive approach was used to collect data from 13 purposively selected CCGs. Content analysis was used to analyse data.

Results: The majority of participants were dissatisfied with the training, as it was conducted in a language in which they were not proficient. They reported a lack of support and supervision in their performance such that mid-upper arm circumference was non-prioritised. They were dissatisfied with work overload not matched by remuneration and they worked under unsafe conditions.

Conclusion: Effective training of CCGs needs to be conducted in the language that they understand to combat malnutrition in children under 5 years. CCGs have multiple roles and may need to prioritise their work; this is not easy and requires specific guidance from skilled health professionals.


community caregivers; malnutrition assessment; mid upper arm circumference; primary health care; experiences


Total abstract views: 2648
Total article views: 4797


Crossref Citations

1. 2030 Countdown to combating malnutrition in Burundi: comparison of proactive approaches for case detection and enrolment into treatment
Emmanuel Nene Odjidja, Cathryn Christensen, Ghislaine Gatasi, Sonia Hakizimana, Honorine Murorunkwere, Jean-Berchmans Masabo, Tarek Meguid
International Health  vol: 14  issue: 4  first page: 413  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihz119