Healthy Mother, Healthy Child, Healthy Generation Campaign
Healthy Mother – Healthy Child – Healthy Generation: A campaign by UNICEF and the Kyrgyz Republic’s Ministry of Health begins in one of the most deprived regions.
Bishkek, April 4, 2008 - “According to international experts, 50 per cent of children who do not reach five years of age could be saved just by changing attitudes and habits concerning their feeding” said Cholpon Imanalieva, Health and Nutrition Specialist of UNICEF in Kyrgyzstan at a press conference marking the beginning of the “Healthy Mother – Healthy Child – Healthy Generation” campaign in Talas. The press conference was held on 3 April 2008 at the Kabar National Information Agency and attracted the attention of all the leading mass media in the country.
The campaign, which aims to inform the population of Talas Oblast, particularly pregnant women and feeding mothers, about the right way to feed, begins on 14 April 2008 and will continue until the end of the year in the framework of an initiative by the Republican Centre for Improving Health of the Kyrgyz Republic’s Ministry of Health, with the support of UNICEF in Kyrgyzstan.
Feeding is one of the most important factors that define the health of a person. Correct feeding from the earliest age leads to normal childhood growth and development, strengthens immunity, increases life expectancy, increases vitality and creates the conditions for adequate adaptation to the environment.
Meanwhile, research carried out by a group of national experts more than 50% of women of childbearing age and 70% of children less than three years of age suffer from iron deficit anemia.
In addition, examinations of children under 5 years of age have exposed widespread retarded growth (delays in development or growth).
“Retarded growth points to inadequate development of a child’s internal organs,” noted Anara Eshkhodjaeva, deputy head of the Ministry of Health’s Department for Organisational and Methodical Assistance, at the press conference. “This is primarily a consequence of incorrect feeding,” she said.
Disturbing indicators of widespread childhood growth retardation among under 5 year olds have been noted in Talas, Issykkul and Batken Oblasts, where practically every third child has retarded growth. In Naryn and Osh Oblasts, about 15% of children fall in this category, with nearly 10% in Jalalabat and Chuy Oblasts and Bishkek city.
Feeding of children from birth to 24 months has its special features. Exclusive breast feeding (feeding a child from 0 – 6 months of age) in the first year of life protects a child from infections, is the ideal source of nutritional substances, and also is economical and safe for the health of mother and child.
“Breast feeding is a basis for health and a foundation for a child’s development,” said Madamin Karataev, Deputy Minister of Health. Meanwhile, UNICEF research has shown that just one in three new born children in the country receives solely breast milk in the first six months of their lives.
Research carried out in Talas Oblast among pregnant women and feeding mothers has shown that in this period, which is the most important for both the woman’s and her child’s life, the quantity of food she eats hardly changes. What is more, during the breastfeeding period, women’s allowances do not change and do not increase, though it is specifically in this period that the mother is more than ever at risk of an iron deficit in her body, as a lot of this element is given to her child in her milk.
In this connection, the Ministry of Health with the financial support of UNICEF and in partnership with Swiss Red Cross will carry out a range of activities all over Talas Oblast to inform the population about the importance of changing feeding habits of pregnant women, feeding mothers, and children of up to two years of age.
Work will be carried out in the framework of the “Healthy Mother – Healthy Child – Healthy Generation” campaign with groups of doctors, pregnant women and feeding mothers, and also with local society through village health groups.
For more information, please contact Olga Gebrennikova, UNICEF Kyrgyzstan, firstname.lastname@example.org.