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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Program Improves Short Term Nutritional Outcomes in a Conflict Zone

A study led by researcher Mr. Arin Balalian, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, finds that a multidisciplinary program within a conflict zone in Armenia was successful in improving several measures of childhood nutrition. Results appear in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

For more than 20 years, Armenia has been in a situation of ongoing, entrenched conflict with neighboring Azerbaijan. The researchers conducted their study in Berd region — where intermittent skirmishes impede community development and undermine health. They evaluated the effectiveness of a multi-pronged program implemented by the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR) called Breaking the Cycle of Poverty.

Although similar programs have been implemented in other countries, few are as large in scope as the FAR program. Uniquely, the FAR program combined healthcare capacity-building in the community by training workers in healthcare facilities, kindergartens, and by providing medical supplies and equipment, kitchenware, organizing on-site and off-site training programs for healthcare providers and kindergarten staff, providing balanced food, treating children with acute malnutrition, and training parents about public health and safety.

The analysis focused on data from 2013 comprising 382 children, and data from 2016 comprising 348 children living in communities where the program was implemented, and 635 children from unexposed communities. The prevalence of anemia in exposed communities almost halved from 2016 compared to 2013 (11 percent vs. 19 percent). Consumption from at least four food groups in the past 24 hours (79 percent vs. 68 percent) and breastfeeding duration (13 months vs. 11.5 months) were significantly improved in the exposed communities.

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