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VietNamNews

Experts promote breast feeding

Update: August, 02/2014 - 08:52
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

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