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Effectiveness Test Project: Realizing the Visibile Effects That Mothers can Notice

The Nutrition Policy which is renewed every five years by the Ministry of Health is one of the key elements to spread the benefits of Spirulina in the country. The policy does not only state the important area of nutrition to intervene, but also introduce locally available nutritious food to be promoted to mothers through clinics. For example, currently the policy recommends to mixing groundnuts powder and soya bean powder into baby porridge. Inclusion of Spirulina into government recommended food list could possibly lead to wider consumption of spirulina, which ultimately expected to contribute alleviating chronic malnutrition.

For inclusion of Spirulina, it is necessary to have evidence of impact on malnutrition. There is a similar study done in Brukina Faso, however not in Zambia. Therefore, Alliance Forum Foundation stepped forward to conduct its own effectiveness test in 2012.

In the first effectiveness test, 60 children chosen by random sampling method within the age range between 12 to 48 months were divided into two groups: 1) Treatment group eating Spirulina mixed porridge (30 children), and 2) Control group eating plain porridge (30 children). We measured children’s height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) monthly for over the period of nine months. We also checked the frequency of illiness, such as cold and diarrhea. At the end of the test, we found out that children in the treatment group had grown better in every indices, especially the difference in height growth was statistically significant. The test outcome provided proof on Spirulina effectiveness in improving stunting, therefore chronic malnutrition. In addition, the effect on improving immunity is anticipated as study showed that three times more children caught malaria in the control group in comparison with the target group.

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Weight Scaling

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Height Scaling

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MUAC Scaling

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However, the most meaningful outcome was that the mothers noticed the effect of Spirulina. Although chronic malnutrition is known by “hidden”, changes in the body appearance, mothers of the treatment group noticed that their children became more energetic, had darker hair and healthier skin. It was very encouraging to also have mothers in the control group expressed their willingness to start mixing Spirulina into porridge after the effectiveness test was completed. It is Alliance Forum Foundation’s intention to yield not only numerically measured impact , but also visible impacts that can be noticed by mothers.

The thesis on the first effectiveness test result was published from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at the Sussex University of Britain in September 2014. The publication contributed to increase Zambian stakeholders’ awareness on effectiveness of Spirulina to reduce malnutrition.

The positive outcome of the first effectiveness test encouraged Alliance Forum Foundation and the local NGO partner to proceeded to further evaluate Spirulina’s effectiveness with a larger sample size to enhance the accuracy. If a similar result is yielded from the second test, the incorporation of Spirulina into the nutrition policy becomes more realistic. The second effectiveness test will be commenced in May 2015.

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For more information on the first effectiveness test, Clinck the link for the full report.