USAID Advancing Nutrition is developing and testing a model mentorship program to improve the quality of breastfeeding counseling provided by health workers in Kenya. The program is designed to reinforce, strengthen and sustain competencies that providers learn through the 2020 Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) Training Course for Maternity Staff, which is being adapted for Kenya. Stakeholders in Kenya identified mentorship as a high priority in response to strengths, weaknesses, and gaps that USAID Advancing Nutrition identified through an assessment of breastfeeding counseling and related training programs in Kenya.
USAID Advancing Nutrition is designing the mentorship program in collaboration with USAID, the Ministry of Health, and the BFHI Task Force, a group of Kenyan government and non-governmental organizations working in the nutrition sector, which is part of a larger national Maternal, Infant and Young Child Feeding Nutrition (MIYCN) Technical Working Group. Through a co-creation process, technical experts at national and county levels are determining key details of the mentorship program structure and contents of a mentorship package. This ensures that the program meets the needs of the country, and that it is owned and led by Kenya-based stakeholders. The project is also developing an implementation research protocol to evaluate the impact of the program on breastfeeding counseling competencies of providers at sub-country referral hospitals. The program is slated to begin in late 2022, with results shared in 2023. Pending the results of testing, the package may provide a model that can be adapted to other countries or contexts to strengthen breastfeeding counseling.