Complementary feeding campaign launched in Cambodia
Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA, 27 April 2012 - The Royal Government of Cambodia in collaboration with UNICEF, USAID, WHO and other development partners, launched a nationwide campaign today on complementary feeding for children aged 6 – 24 months to ensure they receive adequate nutrition from the 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 at the launch.
The impact of malnutrition can be clearly seen across Cambodia and roughly 40 per cent of children age five and under are too small for their age and another 28 per cent are underweight. A smaller, though troubling 11 per cent of children are wasted (thin). Cambodian women are equally susceptible to malnutrition, with 19 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 considered too thin – a situation that increases risk for complications during birth and leads to low birth weight of their babies.
“Although, there is a success in promotion of breastfeeding the appropriate complementary feeding practice is still the main factor contributing to high rate of malnutrition in the country,” said Professor Eng Huot, Secretary of State, Ministry of Health. “Mothers and caregivers have an important role to ensure children receive appropriate and quality complementary food.”
The campaign, financially supported by Spain through the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) and USAID, will encourage mothers and caregivers through home visits and group meetings, 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 effectively conveyed through the use of television and radio. Several print materials have been developed and a Child Health Fair will also be organised using a training video to show mothers and caregivers how to prepare nutritious complementary food.
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