Utilization of Folic Acid and Iron Supplementation Services by Pregnant Women Attending an Antenatal Clinic at a Regional Referral Hospital in Kenya
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To determine utilization of iron and folic acid supplementation services among pregnant women in Kenya. A cross sectional study was conducted at Nyeri Hospital, a regional referral hospital in central Kenya. Women attending the antenatal clinic were selected through systematic sampling. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to collect information on utilization of folic acid and iron supplementation services. Women who ingested folic acid or iron supplements for >4 days in a week were considered “highly compliant”. The health worker in-charge of the antenatal clinic was interviewed about the frequency of supplement stock-outs during the past year. Haemoglobin concentration was measured directly from one drop of capillary blood and measured using portable HEMOCUE B-Hb photometer. Of the 381 women interviewed, only 23.6 % obtained antenatal care in the first trimester; 69.3 and 51.2 % received folic acid and iron supplements, respectively. However, only half (45–58 %) received any information about supplementation. Most women were initiated on folic acid (80.7 %) or iron (67.7 %) after 12 and 16 weeks of gestation, respectively, well after the recommended time period. However, more than 80 % of those who received folic acid and iron were highly compliant. Stock-outs were common at the facility. Of 361 women tested for Hb level, the prevalence of anaemia (Hb levels < 11 g/dl) was 7.8 %. Health workers need to better explain the importance of supplements to pregnant women. Women who come late to antenatal clinic miss opportunities to start supplementation early in pregnancy. Problems with supply chain management exacerbate the problem.
KeywordsFolic acid Iron Supplementation Kenya
We would like to thank the following for their support and contributions: the management of Nyeri Provincial General Hospital, the clients who sought antenatal care at the hospital during the study period, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and finally the Kenya Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation Kenya for financial support.
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