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Mass media campaign on exclusive breast feeding & complementary feeding to reduce the rates of stunting and malnutrition in Viet Nam.

Hà Nội – On the occasion of the micronutrient week in Viet Nam, a mass media campaign on exclusive breastfeeding & complementary feeding was launched today.
Alive & Thrive is a five year initiative (2009-2013), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to promote optimal infant and young child feeding. In Viet Nam, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, National Institute of Nutrition, UNICEF and WHO, Alive & Thrive, aims to ensure that mothers, families, communities, health workers and policy makers receive appropriate information on breastfeeding and complementary feeding that enables them to make informed decisions about how children are fed during the first two years of their lives. 

Although exclusive breastfeeding is the most complete form of nutrition for infants during the first six months of life, only 19.6% of Vietnamese infants are exclusively breastfeed during this critical period. This is much lower than the world’s average of 35% of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their children. Lack of early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding along with inappropriate complementary feeding has contributed to the serious health consequences for children in Viet Nam. A third of Vietnamese children are stunted while every fifth child is underweight.

“Breastfeeding is the single most important factor in child survival and development, more important than any vaccine, modern technology or other health interventions. We therefore need to ensure that every child born in Viet Nam gets the best possible start in life – and that start begins with breastmilk,” said Ms. Nemat Hajeebhoy, Country Director of Alive & Thrive.

“Breastfeeding also helps prevent a great number of diseases, in childhood, as well as adulthood, from infections to allergies and chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer,” said Dr. Le Thi Hop, Director of the National Institute of Nutrition. “By improving feeding practices during the first 24 months of life, we can reduce stunting rates and ultimately improve the health and economic development of Viet Nam. This mass media campaign is a very important step to making sure that every mother and health care worker has ready access to that information and support.”

The United Nations also called for stronger national regulation on marketing of nutrition products targeting young children: “Improper promotion of food products that compete with breastfeeding often negatively affect the choice and ability of a mother to breastfeed normally. Given the special vulnerability of infants and the risks involved in inappropriate feeding practices, usual marketing practices are unsuitable for these products”, said Roger Mathisen, Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF.
The mass media campaign will be executed over the next two years 2012 & 2013. The main messages of the campaign in 2012 are: 

  • Breastfeed your infant within one hour of birth
  • Breastfeed you child exclusively in the first six months - give no water, no formula, no food
  • The more theb baby suckles, the more milk you will produce

The campaign involves development of a large variety of communication products, including TV commercials, loudspeaker scripts, the “Mat Troi Be Tho” website and a host of print materials.

TV commercials will be aired on national and provincial televisions and on popular websites such as Vietnamnet, Vnexpress, Webtretho, Yahoo, Women and Entertainment networks. TVCs and educational videos will also be showed in the Mat Troi Be Tho couselling facilities and in many hospitals in Hanoi, Hochiminh city, Khanh Hoa and other provinces.

Parents, health workers and caregivers are encouraged to visit the website “mattroibetho.vn” and to become members to receive information on breastfeeding and complementary feeding.

The National Institute of Nutrition estimates that if all families practiced appropriate breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, Viet Nam could reduce its stunting rate of children under 5 by 26% by 2015 year and by 23% by 2020 year.

For further information, please contact:

  • Ms. Vu Thi Thu Ha, Alive and Thrive PR and Advocacy Specialist, Tel: 84 43573 9066 ext:105; Email: vha@fhi360.org
  • Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, UNICEF Communications; Tel. 84 4 3942 5706 ext 401; Email: ntthuong@unicef.org

 

 
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