Nutrition plays an important role in preventing illness and reducing morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV. In Lesotho, FANTA works with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other USAID partners involved with the six-country Partnership for HIV-free Survival (PHFS) to strengthen nutrition services for HIV-positive pregnant and lactating women and their children. As the primary nutrition partner in the PHFS, FANTA supports the MOH and district health offices to plan, oversee, and strengthen the quality of nutrition assessment, counseling, and support (NACS) services provided to women and children during antenatal care, postnatal care, and at clinics for children under 5 years of age.
With input from local stakeholders, FANTA recently drafted a 5-day training of trainers (TOT) curriculum on NACS for the MOH. The first TOT held in May served as a pre-test of the new curriculum and included participants from the MOH Family Health, Community Health, and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) departments, district-level nutritionists, and staff from organizations supporting nutrition interventions.
For the Lesotho training, FANTA drew from its vast experience developing NACS materials in several countries. The NACS guidelines, training materials, and job aids have helped program planners and implementers better design and integrate all the elements of NACS into local health care and community services.
The 5-day workshop included a half-day site visit practicum during which participants practiced measuring and classifying nutritional status, delivering health education talks, and providing nutritional counseling at a health facility. In addition, the participants were given the opportunity to practice facilitating selected training modules throughout the week.
Upon completion of the workshop, participants demonstrated increased knowledge of the causes and consequences of malnutrition in HIV-affected populations and improved skills in nutritional assessment and classification and nutrition counseling.
FANTA is currently finalizing the TOT curriculum and will assist the MOH in conducting the first training for health workers later this year. Once the curriculum is finalized, the MOH plans to adopt the curriculum as the national standard for NACS training.
Participants measuring mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) and learning best practices in anthropometric measurement and assessment. Photo credit: Jennifer Marcy, FANTA/FHI 360