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The aim of this report is to describe a health education intervention involving volunteer infant feeding and care counselors being implemented in Mchinji district, Malawi. The intervention was established in January 2004 and involves 72 volunteer infant feeding and care counselors, supervised by 24 government Health Surveillance Assistants, covering 355 villages in Mchinji district. It aims to change the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of women to promote exclusive breastfeeding and other infant care practices. The main target population are women of child bearing age who are visited at five key points during pregnancy and after birth. Where possible, their partners are also involved. The visits cover exclusive breastfeeding and other important neonatal and infant care practices. Volunteers are provided with an intervention manual and picture book. Resource inputs are low and include training allowances and equipment for counselors and supervisors, and a salary, equipment and materials for a coordinator. It is hypothesized that the counselors will encourage informational and attitudinal change to enhance motivation and risk reduction skills and self-efficacy to promote exclusive breastfeeding and other infant care practices and reduce infant mortality. The impact is being evaluated through a cluster randomised controlled trial and results will be reported in 2012.


Journal article


Malawi medical journal : the journal of Medical Association of Malawi

Publication Date





39 - 42


Centre for International Health and Development, UCL, Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford St, London WC1N 1EH ; Centre for Anthropological Research, University of Johannesburg, PO Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa.


Humans, Infant Mortality, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Mothers, Counseling, Health Education, Adult, Middle Aged, Infant, Newborn, Rural Population, Infant Care, Rural Health Services, Malawi, Female, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Research Report, Volunteers