COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF UNDER-FIVE CHILDREN IN NAVY TOWN AND NIGERIAN ARMY CANTONMENT OJO IN LAGOS STATE
This comparative cross-sectional study was undertaken to determine and compare the nutritional status of under-five children in Navy Town and the Nigerian Army Cantonment Ojo in Lagos. It was also conducted to identify the factors responsible for the nutritional status of under-five children in the two barracks.
Materials and methods
Multi-stage sampling method was used to select 220 subjects from each of the two barracks. The data was collected using an interviewer administered questionnaire over a period of three weeks starting from December 13, 2008 to January 3, 2009. Anthropometric measurements of height, weight, head and mid-
upper arm circumferences, as well as blood and stool samples were also taken. The data was analyzed using Epi Info 2007 Windows Version 3.5.1, WinPepi Version 2.00 and WHO Anthro. The outcome variables were: HAZ, WAZ and WHZ.
The results showed that 7.73% of the army and 9.54% of the navy subjects were stunted, while 6.36% and 5.91% of the army and navy subjects respectively were underweight. The prevalence rates of wasting were 7.28% for the army and 4.55% for the navy children. About 5.00% of the navy children compared with 0.91% of the army were overweight for their height. These results were quite low compared with the 2003 NDHS statistics of 38.8%, 28.7%, and 9.2% for stunting, underweight and wasting respectively. Over 85% of all the subjects in this study had PCVs of more than 30%, while intestinal helminthic infection rates were 51.85% for the army and 16.67% for the navy children.
All the outcome variables did not show any significant statistical difference between the two groups except WHZ. The subjects’ age, birth weight, maternal education, number of children in the household and age at introduction of infant formula were found to be associated with malnutrition.
The generally better nutritional status of the navy children compared with the their army counterparts in this study was found to be due to differences in socio-demographic, medical and environmental factors that were more favourable to the navy children. Also, the marked differences in nutritional status between the army and navy children compared with the general population may have been due to
disparities in parental education, income, availability and access to health care facilities that were lower in the general population.
It was recommended that measures be taken by the army and navy authorities to improve maternal and child health services in their barracks. Steps to improve maternal education, create more awareness on the availability of family planning services as well as encourage exclusive breast feeding for at least six months by the army authority were suggested. A de-worming programme for the children in the two barracks, nutrition/food demonstration clinics in the army and navy health facilities, and refuse collection and disposal services in the army barracks were also recommended. The need for the army authorities to sensitize their personnel to take their children for booster doses of OPV and DPT was also stressed as the coverage rates for these vaccines were low. Additionally, measures to improve food security, level of literacy, access and equity to quality health care in the general population were recommended.