The term grandmother is used in Dr Aubel's review as a generic term to refer to maternal and paternal grandmothers, aunts, elder co-wives and other senior women in the family who are involved in providing support and care for children and their mothers.
The three key findings of her review of non-Western societies of Africa, Asia and Latin America are that:
1. Grandmothers play a central role in providing care for women and children and in advising younger women and male family members on nutrition and health matters, especially during pregnancy, childbirth and when children are infants or still young.
2. Social networks of senior women provide a collective influence on maternal and child nutrition-related practices, especially when women are pregnant or have recently given birth.
3. Fathers and grandfathers usually play secondary, supportive roles in non-emergency situations when it comes to maternal and infant nutrition, but their involvement generally increases in crisis situations, when special logistical and/or financial support are required.
"Despite the fact that grandmothers and other senior women are very involved in the nutrition and health of women and children, national and international policies and programmes rarely target or involve them" says Dr Aubel.
"My review clearly shows that there is a large gap between how those planning public health campaigns for non-Western settings view family dynamics and how they actually work in practice."
As a result of her review, Dr Aubel makes four key recommendations:
1. Further research should be carried out in non-Western cultural settings in order to understand the roles, norms, communication networks and decision-making patterns in household and community settings.
2. Health professionals and community workers need to re-examine their perceptions of both culture and grandmothers, so that th
|Contact: Annette Whibley|