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UNICEF Montenegro and the Ministry Of Health launch the awareness-raising campaign “The Early Years – An Opportunity Of A Lifetime”

© UNICEF / Montenegro / 2009

PODGORICA, August 6, 2009 – Only 19% of women exclusively breastfeed their children within the first six months, while only 7% of fathers teach a child his/her first moral principles – what is good and what is bad – and 55% of parents hit their child at least once during the past week in Montenegro according to MICS (2005) and UNICEF research of attitudes and practices of parents with children 0-6 years old conducted in June 2009.

Based on these findings, UNICEF Montenegro and the Ministry of Health launched a 3-month awareness raising campaign “The Early Years – An Opportunity of a Lifetime” on August 1, beginning of the World Breastfeeding Week.

“Based on the key findings of the research, we identified three topics for the campaign to focus on: promotion of breastfeeding; promotion of active involvement of fathers in their children’s upbringing and promotion of alternatives to physical punishment.” says Noala Skinner, UNICEF Montenegro Representative.

85% of Montenegro’s parents do not know that breast milk meets all the needs of the child for nutrients according to UNICEF research. Short video on breastfeeding is being broadcasted on the most influential TV station and billboards and city lights have already been put up all over Montenegro saying that mother’s milk is the most complete form of nutrition she can offer her newborn.

UNICEF research also shows that 41% of mothers visited a doctor alone during pregnancy; 37% of breastfeeding mothers received no help for nutrition and breastfeeding, cleaning and bathing the child; and 59% of fathers did not know how their child was fed.

© UNICEF / Montenegro / 2009

“That is why we are focusing on promoting the role of fathers in our campaign with the key message being - Studies show that when men play a significant role in their children’s upbringing from birth, they do better in school, score higher on intelligence tests and experience behavioural problems more rarely. Father presence shows a strong relationship with higher self-esteem amongst girls. Being a father is an opportunity of a life time.” explains UNICEF Montenegro Representative Noala Skinner.

The third topic of the campaign is promotion of alternatives to physical punishment of children.

55% of guardians hit their child at least once during the past week and 46% of guardians do not explain the child why something should not be done according to UNICEF research.

Help your child learn rules, limits and values by explaining them; talk to children whenever they have done something wrong; children learn how to behave by imitating the behaviour of those closest to them – these are the key messages of the campaign related to the promotion of positive child discipline in Montenegro.

“First years are the most important for the  child’s development and his/her growing up into a healthy person.” says dr Miodrag Radunovic, Minister of Health, and adds that “with this awareness raising campaign the Ministry of Health and UNICEF want to support Montenegro’s parents to provide their children with the best possible start to life”.

Two famous sportsmen, Djuro Ostojic, member of the national basketball team, and Milos Scepanovic, goalkeeper of the waterpolo national team, accepted to be the spokepersons for the campaign.

“Although I am very happy to be with children, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health to promote the best possible start to life, I hope that in future there will be no need for campaigns like this one thanks to an improvement in Montenegro’s parents’ practices” says Djuro Ostojic, who recently became a father himself.

For three months, key messages will be broadcasted on electronic media through three short videos and documentaries, as well as posted on billboards and city lights all over the Montenegro. Also, key messages will be distributed to parents through print media and with the promotional material in primary health centers, maternity wards, hospitals and in ante-natal schools for parents.

“The Early Years – An Opportunity of a Lifetime” campaign will end on October 31, 2009, when a new research on attitudes and practices among Montenegro's parents with children 0-6 years old will be conducted in order to assess the increase in awareness related to the key messages.

 

 
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