Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
MONTE, Cristina Maria Gomes do; ASHWORTH, Ann; SA, Maria Lúcia Barreto and DINIZ, Regina Lúcia Portela. Effectiveness of nutrition centers in Ceará state, northeastern Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1998, vol.4, n.6 ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49891998001200002.
Childhood malnutrition has been a major, long-standing health concern in northeastern Brazil. In response, during 1992_1994, the state government of Ceará, with financial support from the World Bank, established 34 new nutrition centers. During 1996 an evaluation of the centers was conducted to determine their effectiveness in treating children with malnutrition and to identify weaknesses in the system and possible solutions. Also evaluated were the adequacy of resources, admission and discharge criteria, staff training, and community satisfaction. Effectiveness was found to be low. Treatment procedures did not conform with World Health Organization recommendations. Rates of weight gain were inadequate, and the mean duration of rehabilitation-8.7 months-was too long. Case fatality in two centers was unacceptably high, 40% and more. Entry and exit criteria for rehabilitation were ill defined, resulting in some nonmalnourished children being enrolled. Few staff were adequately trained; knowledge was weak, especially about case management; and mothers were not effectively instructed. Recommendations include setting objectives for the centers, improving referral systems, standardizing entry criteria, improving case management, and establishing performance indicators.