|A breast feeding event at the Vietnamese Women's Museum. The event was held yesterday to promote breast feeding in the community. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh
HA NOI (VNS)— Experts yesterday called on members of the
community to assist the health sector in its push to promote breast feeding at
a photo exhibition to mark World Breast Feeding Week.
The event, organised under the theme "Mother's Milk – Life
Rewarded", is among a host of activities co-organised by the Ministry of
Health, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organisation and
Alive&Thrive in Viet Nam.
"Breast milk is vital for life. Every year, breast feeding
could save the lives of 1.3 million children under five years of age across the
world," said Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien at the event.
"To enhance breast feeding practices, it is important to
create a supporting and protective environment for mothers and children to ensure
that exclusive breast feeding is carried out during the first six months of a
child's life," said Tien.
"We should maintain our commitment to protect, promote and
support breast feeding by helping mothers, families and the community become
aware of the benefits of breast feeding as well as the risks of non-natural
feeding," added Tien.
"Exclusive breast feeding and adequate complementary feeding
are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving about 20
per cent of children under five in the world," said Roger Mathisen, Head of
Nutrition Programme of UNICEF Viet Nam.
Country director of Alive&Thrive Viet Nam Nemat
Hajeebhoy said that mothers needed policy protection from Government, support
from health staff, understanding and assistance from employers and colleagues,
and encouragement from friends and family.
During the first week of August, activities will focus on
raising awareness and promoting breast feeding and proper nutrition for young
children through photo exhibitions, consultations, and media campaigns.
Viet Nam is currently in the midst of implementing the
National Action Plan for Infant and Young Child Feeding for the 2012-15 period.
The plan focuses on the importance of investing in the first 1,000 days of
child development and emphasises a multi-sectorial approach, involving
governments, international organisations and advocates.
However, only 19.6 per cent of children in Viet Nam under
the age of six months are exclusively breastfed and one-third of children under
five years of age are stunted. At the same time, formula feeding and
supplementary feeding of children within the first six months of life is on the
rise. — VNS