Complementary feeding campaign launched in Cambodia
PHNOM PENH, 27 April 2012 - The Royal Government of Cambodia with UNICEF, USAID and the World Health Organization and other partners launched a nationwide campaign today to ensure children aged from six to 24 months receive adequate nutrition from a combination of complementary food and breast milk.
In Cambodia, malnutrition affects the majority of children under the age of five. It is caused by the inability to afford nutritious food, high rates of infectious diseases and inappropriate feeding practices.
The consequences of malnutrition are severe. It is one of the top underlying causes of child mortality and morbidity in Cambodia and its lasting repercussions continue into adulthood, impairing both mental and physical development that results in poor performance in school and limited opportunities for work in later life.
“By seeking to improve complementary feeding for children 6 to 24 months we are addressing one of the major barriers to Cambodia reaching its full potential in the future – the healthy development of its children,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Sunah Kim.
The impact of malnutrition can be clearly seen across Cambodia. About 40 per cent of children age five and under are too small for their age and another 28 per cent are underweight. Cambodian women are equally susceptible to malnutrition with 19 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 considered too thin, which increases risk for complications during birth and leads to low birth weight for their babies.
Professor Eng Huot, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Health, noted that although promoting breastfeeding was successful, a shortage of appropriate complementary feeding was still the main factor contributing to high malnutrition rates in the country.
“Mothers and caregivers have an important role to ensure children receive appropriate and quality complementary food,” he said.
The campaign, financially supported by Spain through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund and USAID, will encourage mothers and caregivers to adopt and maintain improved complementary feeding by ensuring that the right food is given to young children in the right way and at the right time.
As part of the campaign to help promote the adoption of good practices in relation to appropriate complementary feeding, messages will be broadcast on television and radio. A Child Health Fair will use a training video to show mothers and caregivers how to prepare nutritious complementary food.
Ultimately the campaign should help improve the nutritional status of Cambodian children, reduce child malnutrition and accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals 1 and 4: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; and reduce child mortality.