Identifying Policy Relevant Variables For Reducing Childhood Malnutrition In Rural Mali
The paper uses OLS and Logit analyses of household survey data to identify and compare determinants of the health and nutritional status of Malian children living in three distinct agricultural production zones (cotton, millet/sorghum, and irrigated rice). These preliminary results suggest that improvements in health center coverage (e.g., reducing the average distance to a health center from 20 to 10 kilometers) and more diversity in complementary foods after six months of age (two or more different foods during a 24 hour period) have the potential to significantly improve standardized height for age scores. Other factors of importance are mother's incomes, prenatal visits, and parents' standardized heights (reflecting either genetic traits or generations of poor nutrition). Recommendations for reducing Mali's high prevalence of malnutrition include the need to raise awareness of the problem among rural populations. Because rural health workers, local administrators, and parents do not recognize malnutrition as a problem, newly empowered decentralized governments will need some external assistance to get the issue on local agendas and identify potential solutions.
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