Health & Nutrition

Helping children stay healthy and well-nourished

 

Sprinkle augurs health and happiness for children in Myanmar’s Thahton Township

© UNICEF Myanmar/2011/Myo Thame
Daw Mya Yee, a leader in the mother circle mixes Sprinkle with rice porridge to serve to children inNaungKalar village

OnlyUS$ 3.3 worth sprinkle per year per child helps reduce iron deficiency anaemia in Myanmar’s children
By Sandar Linn

Thahton, Myanmar, 24 Thursday 2011: Daw Mya Yee, 55, has been a volunteer leader in the mother circle in Naungkalar village of ThahtonTownship for the past five years. In her role as a mother circle leader, she facilitates and organizesactivities of early childhood care for growth and development of children. She has gained experience in a wide range of child-centred activities such as health, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, child care, child protection, psychosocial support, cognitive and linguistic stimulation for children of up to 3 years of age. Added to her routine tasks these days isto share and spread the message on multi-micronutrient sprinkles. She alsodistributes sprinkles to children through mother circle in which she hosts a maximum of 10 children at a time. Parents of these children are mostly manual labourers who work round the clock to make their ends meet. They are unable to spend enough time with their children. Daw Mya Yee has recently undergone training on the benefits and use of sprinkles. “Many families in the community are not aware that the early years of the child’s life have profound impact on his/her development and how feeding practices contribute to that end,” said Daw Mya Yee who also has been working as an auxiliary mid-wife for more than two decades. “I learned from the training that sprinkle includes vitamin, mineral and other nutrients which are required for a child’s healthy growth and development. I share this critical information with mothers and grandmothers to let them know how valuable the powder is for their children,” she said. Sprinklecomein a single-serve sachet containing a premix powder of vitamins and minerals that are easily sprinkled once daily onto any semi-liquid foods without changing the colour, taste or texture of the food. It is designed for 6-59 month oldchildren to prevent and treat iron deficiency anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies. “I mixed sprinkle with rice porridge and provide to children who join the mother circle just to demonstrate mothers and grandmothers how this sprinkle is used with food once or twice a week. I want to make sure that it becomes part of a regular feeding habit.” she said. In Myanmar about one third of children below five years of age are under-weight and/or stunted and 8.6 per cent are wasted or acutely malnourished according to Multi-indicator Cluster Survey 2003. Myanmar has the second largest in child malnutrition in south-east Asia region next only to Timor.

© UNICEF Myanmar/2011/Myo Thame
Sprinkle is mixed with rice porridge to be served children at mother circle in NaungKalar village in Thahton.

“Micronutrient deficiencies in Myanmar mainly denote deficiencies in Vitamin A, Iodine, Iron and Vitamin B1. Micronutrient deficiency in young children is associated with impairment in cognitive and physical development that may not be reversible,”said Dr Kyaw Win Sein, Nutrition Specialist in UNICEF Myanmar. “A lot of the malnutrition can be prevented by giving adequate quantity and quality of complementary food to children over six months. Adding a Sprinkle sachet (which includes all the required micronutrients) can improve the quality of feeding at a very low cost”, he added. Micronutrient Sprinkles was first introduced in Myanmar as an emergency response to acute and chronic malnutritionin the Cyclone Nargis affected areas in 2008. The study on acceptability, efficacy and effectiveness of micronutrient sprinkles was completed in Myanmar in 2010 which shows that prevalence of anaemia dropped from 58.5 per cent at base-line to 23.3 per cent after intervention accounting for a decline of 60.4 per cent with cure rate of 69.9 per cent. Acceptability of the intervention was also high among mothers and children. Sprinkles have a lot of advantages compared tothe use of iron rich foods, targeted fortification of foods for children and iron syrup and tabletswhich traditionally were used in the past to tackle iron deficiency. Ma Lwan Bo, mother of a 17 month old daughter reported, “My daughter likes to eat her rice mixed with sprinkle. We call it ‘Ka Laing’ – in our Pao ethnic language it means essential and powerful medicine. I can seemy child becoming more active and her appetite increased since I started giving her sprinkles mixed with rice.” Sprinkle should be given only one sachet per day and 120 sachets cover the maximum requirement for the whole year for a child under three. UNICEF will support bringing and distributing sprinkles through mother circles across 79 Townships of Myanmar with the objective tocontrol micronutrient deficiencies and improve the quality of complementary feeding.

 

 
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