Drinking to their health: social analysis of a micronutrient-fortified beverage field trial
Anthropologic research was conducted among pregnant and lactating women in rural Tanzania in conjunction with clinical trials of a micronutrient-fortified beverage. Use of the beverage was examined through interviews and ethnographic observation in clinics and at home. Women liked the taste of the beverage, considered it beneficial to their health, preferred it to pills or injections, and most were willing and able to use it according to instructions. Most consumed the beverage according to schedule in the hope of improving pregnancy outcomes. However, public health facilities in Tanzania are not currently equipped to ensure regular delivery of micronutrient supplements, and many of the women with the worst nutrition profiles are also those who would be least able to purchase supplements on the open market. Successful distribution of micronutrient supplements in forms that appeal to consumers, such as a fortified beverage, will require programmatic attention to locally appropriate social marketing and to the challenges of reaching those with extremely low incomes.