Towards complementary food hygiene practices among child caregivers in rural Malawi

Chidziwisano, Kondwani and Slekiene, Jurgita and Kumwenda, Save and Mosler, Hans-Joachim and Morse, Tracy (2019) Towards complementary food hygiene practices among child caregivers in rural Malawi. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 101 (2). pp. 294-303. ISSN 0002-9637 (

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Despite being preventable, foodborne diseases remain a global health challenge. Poor food hygiene practices such as improper handling of kitchen utensils are among the major causes of diarrhea transmission. A formative study was conducted in Malawi to inform an intervention design to promote complementary food hygiene practices. An assessment of contextual and psychosocial factors for behavior change was conducted using Risk, Attitude, Norms, Ability, and Self-regulation model. We conducted 323 household surveys with caregivers of children aged 6 to 24 months. Analysis of variance was used to estimate difference between doers and non-doers of three targeted behaviors: washing utensils with soap, keeping utensils on a raised place, and handwashing with soap. Analysis of variance analyses revealed that literacy level, ownership of animals, and presence of handwashing facility and dish racks were contextual factors predicting storage of utensils on an elevated place and handwashing frequencies. Psychosocial factors, such as time spent to wash utensils with soap, distance to the handwashing facility, and cost for soap, had an influence on washing utensils and handwashing practices. Perceived vulnerability determined effective handwashing and storage of utensils. Perceived social norms and ability estimates were favorable for the three targeted behaviors. Promotion of already existing targeted beneficial behaviors should be encouraged among caregivers. Risk perceptions on storage of utensils and handwashing practices should be increased with motivational exercises such as paint games. Caregivers' technical know-how of local dish rack and tippy tap construction is essential.