Parents report healthy growth for children receiving micronutrient sprinkles in Myanmar villages

© UNICEF MYANMAR /2012/ Myo Thame
Kyi Mwait Eain loves to play with her friends at the mother circle. Encouraging children to play and explore helps them learn and develop socially, emotionally, physically and intellectually.

By Sandar Linn

Kawhmu, Myanmar, 14 March 2012:  After she wakes up every morning at around 6:00 am, the first meal of the day for two-and-a-half year old Kyi Mwait Eain is rice and bean mixed with multi-micronutrient sprinkles.

“I like my rice,” said Kyi Mwait Eain with a happy smile. Kyi Mwait Eain lives with her parents in Lawati village, two miles from the Kawhmu Township. Her father is a peasant. Her mother Hla Hla Mon, 33 keeps busy with domestic chores and child caring and also in helping her husband’s work from time to time.

However busy, Hla Hla Mon admits she never forgets to add multi-micronutrient sprinkle powder to the morning meal she prepares for Kyi Mwait Eain.

“I do it every day, as a mother who would want to miss the opportunity for her child’s better health and growth?” said Ma Hla Hla Mon, 33, mother of Kyi Mwait Eain.

Benefit for the parents

She joined the village mother circle since her daughter was a year old.  She received the supply sprinkle sachets from leader of the mother circle along with a briefing on its use and benefits for the child.  The positive signs of the benefits she learnt about were all too clear in Kyi Mwait Eain that encouraged Hla Hla Mon to continue use of sprinkles without fail.
“My daughter eats and sleeps well. She is rarely sick and actively participates in mother circle activities, she likes to recite poems and sing songs.  She explores her environment and asks many questions. These are some visible benefits after she has been fed sprinkles for three months,” said Hla Hla Mon with a big smile.

Sprinkle is a single-serve sachet containing a premix powder of vitamins and minerals that are easily sprinkled on semi-liquid foods once daily for a 6-59 month old child to prevent and treat iron deficiency anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies and to improve quality of complementary food.

Hla Hla Mon is not the only one, many parents have found sprinkles have a positive impact on their children’s wellbeing, said Mya Thida Moe, village mother circle leader. Moe looks after ten children at a time whose parents are mostly manual labourers who work through the day work and cannot be with their children full time.

© UNICEF MYANMAR /2012/ Myo Thame
Kyi Mwait Eain with her mother Ma Hla Hla Mon in Lawati village, Kawhmu, Myanmar

Early childhood develoment

“Many families in this community do not have the knowledge and capacity to engage effectively in early childhood development, both economic and educational status are low. Mother Circle attempts to fill some of the gap by organizing 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,” said Ma Mya Thida Moe.

In Myanmar about one third of children below five years of age are under-weight and/or stunted and 7.7 per cent are wasted or acutely malnourished according to Multi-indicator Cluster Survey 2009-2010, making Myanmar as second highest in south-east Asia region next only to Timor.

Multi-micronutrient sprinkles is one of the best solutions

“Provision of multi-micronutrient sprinkles is one of the best solutions to address micronutrient malnutrition among children in Myanmar, “said Dr Kyaw Win Sein, Nutrition Specialist at UNICEF Myanmar’s Young Child Survival and Development Programme.

With the generous contribution from the Swiss National Committee, 6,469 vulnerable children aged 6-35 months received 37,450 packs of multi-micronutrient sprinkles which was provided twice a year, each last for 60 days through 585 mother circles in 30 townships in 2011. 

Multi-micronutrient sprinkles were first introduced in Myanmar in 2008 during emergency response to Cyclone Nargis in 36 affected townships in Yangon and Ayeyarwaddy Regions.
“When a child receive the best start in the earliest years of life, s/he is more likely to grow with good health, develop in language and learning capacities, with better school-readiness and led a productive, rewarding life, “said Dr Aye Aye Yee, Education Specialist, Basic Education and Gender Equality Programme, UNICEF Myanmar.

The mother circles work toward reaching children in a holistic manner by incorporating health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education interventions that support their full development.  Micronutrient sprinkles significantly adds to that efforts.



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