The dynamic relationship between cash transfers and child health: can the child support grant in South Africa make a difference to child nutrition?
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE:Cash transfer programmes targeting children are considered an effective strategy for addressing child poverty and for improving child health outcomes in developing countries. In South Africa, the Child Support Grant (CSG) is the largest cash transfer programme targeting children from poor households. The present paper investigates the association of the duration of CSG receipt with child growth at 2 years in three diverse areas of South Africa. DESIGN:The study analysed data on CSG receipt and anthropometric measurements from children. Predictors of stunting were assessed using a backward regression model. SETTING:Paarl (peri-urban), Rietvlei (rural) and Umlazi (urban township), South Africa, 2008. SUBJECTS:Children (n 746), median age 22 months. RESULTS:High rates of stunting were observed in Umlazi (28 %), Rietvlei (20 %) and Paarl (17 %). Duration of CSG receipt had no effect on stunting. HIV exposure (adjusted OR=2·30; 95 % CI 1·31, 4·03) and low birth weight (adjusted=OR 2·01, 95 % CI 1·02, 3·96) were associated with stunting, and maternal education had a protective effect on stunting. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings suggest that, despite the presence of the CSG, high rates of stunting among poor children continue unabated in South Africa. We argue that the effect of the CSG on nutritional status may have been eroded by food price inflation and limited progress in the provision of other important interventions and social services.
Project description:Child cash transfers are increasingly recognised for their potential to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes. South Africa's child support grant (CSG) constitutes the largest cash transfer in the continent. No studies have been conducted to look at factors associated with successful receipt of the CSG. This paper reports findings on factors associated with CSG receipt in three settings in South Africa (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal).This study used longitudinal data from a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding by peer-counsellors in South Africa (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00397150). 1148 mother-infant pairs were enrolled in the study and data on the CSG were collected at infant age 6, 12, 24 weeks and 18-24 months. A stratified cox proportional hazards regression model was fitted to the data to investigate factors associated with CSG receipt.Uptake of the CSG amongst eligible children at a median age of 22 months was 62% in Paarl, 64% in Rietvlei and 60% in Umlazi. Possessing a birth certificate was found to be the strongest predictor of CSG receipt (HR 3.1, 95% CI: 2.4 -4.1). Other factors also found to be independently associated with CSG receipt were an HIV-positive mother (HR 1.2, 95% CI: 1.0-1.4) and a household income below R1100 (HR1.7, 95% CI: 1.1 -2.6).Receipt of the CSG was sub optimal amongst eligible children showing administrative requirements such as possessing a birth certificate to be a serious barrier to access. In the spirit of promoting and protecting children's rights, more efforts are needed to improve and ease access to this cash transfer program.
Project description:Timely vaccination is important to induce adequate protective immunity. We measured vaccination timeliness and vaccination coverage in three geographical areas in South Africa.This study used vaccination information from a community-based cluster-randomized trial promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three South African sites (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal) between 2006 and 2008. Five interview visits were carried out between birth and up to 2 years of age (median follow-up time 18 months), and 1137 children were included in the analysis. We used Kaplan-Meier time-to-event analysis to describe vaccination coverage and timeliness in line with the Expanded Program on Immunization for the first eight vaccines. This included Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), four oral polio vaccines and 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine which protects against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenzae type B.The proportion receiving all these eight recommended vaccines were 94% in Paarl (95% confidence interval [CI] 91-96), 62% in Rietvlei (95%CI 54-68) and 88% in Umlazi (95%CI 84-91). Slightly fewer children received all vaccines within the recommended time periods. The situation was worst for the last pentavalent- and oral polio vaccines. The hazard ratio for incomplete vaccination was 7.2 (95%CI 4.7-11) for Rietvlei compared to Paarl.There were large differences between the different South African sites in terms of vaccination coverage and timeliness, with the poorer areas of Rietvlei performing worse than the better-off areas in Paarl. The vaccination coverage was lower for the vaccines given at an older age. There is a need for continued efforts to improve vaccination coverage and timeliness, in particular in rural areas.ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00397150.
Project description:Breastfeeding is a critical component of interventions to reduce child mortality. Exclusive breastfeeding practice is extremely low in South Africa and there has been no improvement in this over the past ten years largely due to fears of HIV transmission. Early cessation of breastfeeding has been found to have negative effects on child morbidity and survival in several studies in Africa. This paper reports on determinants of early breastfeeding cessation among women in South Africa.This is a sub group analysis of a community-based cluster-randomized trial (PROMISE EBF) promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three South African sites (Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal) between 2006 and 2008 (ClinicalTrials.gov no: NCT00397150). Infant feeding recall of 22 food and fluid items was collected at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks postpartum. Women's experiences of breast health problems were also collected at the same time points. 999 women who ever breastfed were included in the analysis. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusting for site, arm and cluster, was performed to determine predictors of stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks postpartum.By 12 weeks postpartum, 20% of HIV-negative women and 40% of HIV-positive women had stopped all breastfeeding. About a third of women introduced other fluids, most commonly formula milk, within the first 3 days after birth. Antenatal intention not to breastfeed and being undecided about how to feed were most strongly associated with stopping breastfeeding by 12 weeks (Adjusted odds ratio, AOR 5.6, 95% CI 3.4 - 9.5 and AOR 4.1, 95% CI 1.6 - 10.8, respectively). Also important was self-reported breast health problems associated with a 3-fold risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 3.1, 95%CI 1.7 - 5.7) and the mother having her own income doubled the risk of stopping breastfeeding (AOR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3 - 2.8).Early cessation of breastfeeding is common amongst both HIV-negative and positive women in South Africa. There is an urgent need to improve antenatal breastfeeding counselling taking into account the challenges faced by working women as well as early postnatal lactation support to prevent breast health problems.
Project description:Cash transfer (CT) programmes are increasingly being used as policy instruments to address child poverty and child health outcomes in developing countries. As the largest cash-transfer programme in Africa, the South African Child Support Grant (CSG) provides an important opportunity to further understand how a CT of its kind works in a developing country context. We explored the experiences and views of CSG recipients and non-recipients from four diverse settings in South Africa. Four major themes emerged from the data: barriers to accessing the CSG; how the CSG is utilised and the ways in which it makes a difference; the mechanisms for supplementing the CSG; and the impact of not receiving the grant. Findings show that administrative factors continue to be the greatest barrier to CSG receipt, pointing to the need for further improvements in managing queues, waiting times and coordination between departments for applicants trying to submit their applications. Many recipients, especially those where the grant was the only source of income, acknowledged the importance of the CSG, while also emphasising its inadequacy. To maximise their impact, CT programmes such as the CSG need to be fully funded and form part of a broader basket of poverty alleviation strategies.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: To report on risk factors for severe events (hospitalisation or infant death) within the first half of infancy amongst HIV-unexposed infants in South Africa. METHODS: South African data from the multisite community-based cluster-randomised trial PROMISE EBF promoting exclusive breastfeeding in three sub-Saharan countries from 2006 to 2008 were used. The South African sites were Paarl in the Western Cape Province, and Umlazi and Rietvlei in KwaZulu-Natal. This analysis included 964 HIV-negative mother-infant pairs. Data on severe events and infant feeding practices were collected at 3, 6, 12 and 24 weeks post-partum. We used a stratified extended Cox model to examine the association between the time to the severe event and covariates including birthweight, with breastfeeding status as a time-dependent covariate. RESULTS: Seventy infants (7%) experienced a severe event. The median age at first hospitalisation was 8 weeks, and the two main reasons for hospitalisation were cough and difficult breathing followed by diarrhoea. Stopping breastfeeding before 6 months (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.2-5.1) and low birthweight (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.3-4.3) were found to increase the risk of a severe event, whilst maternal completion of high school education was protective (HR 0.3; 95% CI 0.1-0.7). CONCLUSIONS: A strengthened primary healthcare system incorporating promotion of breastfeeding and appropriate caring practices for low birthweight infants (such as kangaroo mother care) are critical. Given the leading reasons for hospitalisation, early administration of oral rehydration therapy and treatment of suspected pneumonia are key interventions needed to prevent hospitalisation in young infants.
Project description:Food security and good nutrition are key determinants of child well-being. There is strong evidence that cash transfers such as South Africa's Child Support Grant (CSG) have the potential to help address some of the underlying drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition by providing income to caregivers in poor households, but it is unclear how precisely they work to affect child well-being and nutrition. We present results from a qualitative study conducted to explore the role of the CSG in food security and child well-being in poor households in an urban and a rural setting in South Africa. SETTING:Mt Frere, Eastern Cape (rural area); Langa, Western Cape (urban township). PARTICIPANTS:CSG recipient caregivers and community members in the two sites . We conducted a total of 40 in-depth interviews with mothers or primary caregivers in receipt of the CSG for children under the age of 5 years. In addition, five focus group discussions with approximately eight members per group were conducted. Data were analysed using manifest and latent thematic content analysis methods. RESULTS:The CSG is too small on its own to improve child nutrition and well-being. Providing for children's diets and nutrition competes with other priorities that are equally important for child well-being and nutrition. CONCLUSIONS:In addition to raising the value of the CSG so that it is linked to the cost of a nutritious basket of food, more emphasis should be placed on parallel structural solutions that are vital for good child nutrition outcomes and well-being, such as access to free quality early child development services that provide adequate nutritious meals, access to adequate basic services and the promotion of appropriate feeding, hygiene and care practices.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>A large literature has indicated a robust association between birth spacing and child survival, but evidence on the association of birth timing with physical growth in low and middle income countries (LMICs) remains limited.<h4>Methods and results</h4>Data from 153 cross-sectional Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) across 61 LMICs conducted between 1990 and 2011 were combined to assess the association of birth timing with child stunting (height-for-age z-score <-2). A total of 623,789 children of birth order 1-5 contributed to the maternal age analysis, while the birth spacing dataset consisted of 584,226 children of birth order 2 and higher. Compared to 27-34 year old mothers, maternal age under 18 years was associated with a relative stunting risk of 1.35 (95% CI: 1.29-1.40) for firstborn children, whereas the relative risk was 1.24 (95% CI: 1.19-1.29) for mothers aged 18-19 years. The association of young maternal age with stunting was significantly greater for urban residents and those in the top 50% of household wealth. Birth intervals less than 12 months and 12-23 months had relative risks for stunting of 1.09 (95% CI: 1.06-1.12) and 1.06 (95% CI: 1.05-1.06) as compared to a 24-35 month inter-pregnancy interval, respectively. The strength of both teenage pregnancy and short birth interval associations showed substantial variation across WHO region. We estimate that 8.6% (6.9-10.3%) of stunted cases in the South Asian DHS sample would have been averted by jointly eliminating teen pregnancies and birth intervals less than 24 months, while only 3.6% (1.5-5.7%) of stunting cases would have prevented in the Middle East and North Africa sample.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Postponing the age of first birth and increasing inter-pregnancy intervals has the potential to significantly reduce the prevalence of stunting and improve child development in LMICs.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:To examine associations between receipt of an electronic food voucher (e-voucher) compared to food rations on the nutritional status of Rohingya children living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. METHODS:This is an associational study using cross-sectional data. We measured heights and weights of 523 children aged between 6 and 23 months in households receiving either a food ration consisting of rice, pulses, vegetable oil (362 children) or an e-voucher (161 children) that could be used to purchase 19 different foods. Data were also collected on the characteristics of their mothers and the households in which they lived, including household demographics, consumption and expenditure, coping strategies, livelihoods and income profiles, and access to assistance. Associations between measures of anthropometric status (height-for-age z scores, stunting, weight-for-height z scores, wasting, weight-for-age z scores and mid-upper arm circumference) and household receipt of the e-voucher were estimated using ordinary least squares regressions. Control variables included child, maternal, household and locality characteristics. The study received ethical approval from the Institutional Review Board of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC. RESULTS:Household receipt of an e-voucher was associated with improved linear growth in children. This association is robust to the inclusion of maternal, household and location characteristics. The magnitude of the association is 0.38 SD (CI: 0.01, 0.74), and statistically significant at the five percent level. We cannot reject the null hypothesis that these associations differ by child sex. Receipt of an e-voucher is not associated with stunting when a full set of control variables are included. There is no association between receipt of e-vouchers and weight-for-length, weight-for-age or mid-upper arm circumference. We cannot reject the null hypothesis that these associations differ by child sex. CONCLUSIONS:In a humanitarian assistance setting, Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, household receipt of an electronic food voucher instead of a food ration is associated with improvements in the linear growth of children between 6 and 23 months but not in measures of acute undernutrition or other anthropometric outcomes. Our associational evidence indicates that transitioning from food rations to electronic food vouchers does not adversely affect child nutritional status.
Project description:Stunting (length-for-age z score < -2) before 2 years of age has shown associations with poor child developmental indicators, but information at the population level is scarce in South Asia, the region with the highest burden of stunting. We examined associations between z scores (i.e., height for age [HAZ], weight for age [WAZ], and weight for height [WHZ]) and undernutrition (i.e., stunting [HAZ < -2], wasting [WHZ < -2], and underweight [WAZ < -2]) with learning/cognition and social-emotional development among children 36-59 months of age. Data from Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys in Bangladesh (n = 8,659), Bhutan (n = 2,038), Nepal (n = 2,253), and Pakistan (Punjab n = 11,369 and Sindh n = 6,718) were used. Children were considered developmentally "on-track" in learning/cognition or social-emotional domains if they met specific early child development criteria. Meta-analysis was conducted to examine regional associations, adjusting for socio-economic status, early childhood education, and quality of care. In a pooled sample, on-track learning/cognition development was positively associated with HAZ (OR = 1.17, 95% CI [1.07, 1.27]) and WAZ (OR = 1.18, 95% CI [1.07, 1.31]) and negatively associated with stunting (OR = 0.72, 95% CI [0.60, 0.86]) and underweight (OR = 0.75, 95% CI [0.66, 0.86]) but not associated with WHZ or wasting. On-track development of social-emotional domain was not associated with any z scores or undernutrition indicators. Across several countries of South Asia, stunted children were less likely to be developmentally "on track" for learning/cognition. It is likely that interventions that prevent stunting may benefit child development, leading to significant individual and societal gains given the large burden of child stunting in regions like South Asia.
Project description:In South Asia, an estimated 38% of preschool-age children have stunted growth. We aimed to assess the effect of WHO-recommended antenatal iron, and folic acid (IFA) supplements on smaller than average birth size and stunting in South Asian children <2 years old. The sample was 96,512 mothers with their most recent birth within two years, from nationally representative surveys between 2005 and 2016 in seven South Asian countries. Primary outcomes were stunting [length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) < -2], severe stunting [length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) < -3], length-for-age Z score, and perceived smaller than average birth size. Exposure was the use of IFA supplements. We conducted analyses with Poisson, linear and logistic multivariate regression adjusted for the cluster survey design, and 14 potential confounders covering the country of the survey, socio-demographic factors, household economic status, maternal characteristics, and duration of respondent recall. The prevalence of stunting was 33%, severe stunting was 14%, and perceived smaller than average birth size was 22%. Use of antenatal IFA was associated with a reduced adjusted risk of being stunted by 8% (aRR 0.92, 95% CI 0.89, 0.95), of being severely stunted by 9% (aRR 0.91, 95% CI 0.86, 0.96) and of being smaller than average birth size by 14% (aRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.80, 0.91). The adjusted mean LAZ was significantly higher in children whose mothers used IFA supplements. Maternal use of IFA in the first four months gestation and consuming 120 or more supplements throughout pregnancy was associated with the largest reduction in risk of child stunting. Antenatal IFA supplementation was associated with a significantly reduced risk of stunting, severe stunting, and smaller than average perceived birth size and improved LAZ in young South Asian children. The early and sustained use of antenatal IFA has the potential to improve child growth outcomes in South Asia and other low-and-middle-income countries with high levels of iron deficiency in pregnancy.