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Malnutrition in Chakradharpur, Jharkhand: an anthropological study of perceptions and care practices from IndiaChaand, I; Horo, M; Nair, M; Harshana, A; Mahajan, R; Kashyap, V; Falero, F; Escruela, M; Burza, S; Dasgupta, R (BioMed Central, 2019-07-02)Background This study aims to investigate the knowledge, perception and practices related to health, nutrition, care practices, and their effect on nutrition health-seeking behaviour. Methods In order to have maximum representation, we divided Chakradharpur block in Jharkhand state into three zones (north, south and centre regions) and purposively selected 2 Ambulatory Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ATFC) clusters from each zone, along with 2 villages per ATFC (12 villages from 6 ATFCs in total). In-depth interviews and natural group discussions were conducted with mothers/caregivers, frontline health workers (FHWs), Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff, community representatives, and social leaders from selected villages. Results We found that the community demonstrates a strong dependence on traditional and cultural practices for health care and nutrition for newborns, infants and young children. Furthermore, the community relies on alternative systems of medicine for treatment of childhood illnesses such as malnutrition. The study indicated that there was limited access to and utilization of local health services by the community. Lack of adequate social safety nets, limited livelihood opportunities, inadequate child care support and care, and seasonal male migration leave mothers and caregivers vulnerable and limit proper child care and feeding practices. With respect to continuum of care, services linking care across households to facilities are fragmented. Limited knowledge of child nutrition amongst mothers and caregivers as well as fragmented service provision contribute to the limited utilization of local health services. Government FHWs and MSF field staff do not have a robust understanding of screening methods, referral pathways, and counselling. Additionally, collaboration between MSF and FHWs regarding cases treated at the ATFC is lacking, disrupting the follow up process with discharged cases in the community. Conclusions For caregivers, there is a need to focus on capacity building in the area of child nutrition and health care provision post-discharge. It is also recommended that children identified as having moderate acute malnutrition be supported to prevent them from slipping into severe acute malnutrition, even if they do not qualify for admission at ATFCs. Community education and engagement are critical components of a successful CMAM program.