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Campaign to Promote Breastfeeding of Children until Age Two Launches in Cambodia with Support from URC’s Better Health Services Project
Cambodia has launched a mass media campaign to promote the continued breastfeeding of children until at least age two. Developed with technical support from URC's Better Health Services (BHS) project, funded by USAID, the campaign complements both existing Ministry of Health spots on early and exclusive breastfeeding and a Ministry/UNICEF campaign on complementary feeding of children aged 6 to 24 months. The TV spot can be viewed here.
Worrisome nutritional data from the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey inspired Cambodia's comprehensive focus on child nutrition. The survey revealed that 28% of Cambodian children under five were underweight; that 40% were short for their age, reflecting long-term undernutrition; and that 11% were wasted (thin), putting them at high risk of mortality.
The optimal source of nutrients for infants and young children is breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended during the first six months of life, after which complementary foods should be introduced while breastfeeding continues until at least two years (see graph). While exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months has risen to 74% of Cambodian mothers, only 43% continue to breastfeed until their child's 2nd birthday. This suggests that more than half of Cambodian infants are missing an important source of nutrition and immune protection from 6–24 months and helps explain why the Cambodian childhood malnutrition rate has been stagnant since 2005.
BHS worked with the National Nutrition Program and its steering committee to produce one TV and two radio spots to promote breastfeeding until age two. The TV spot was broadcast at least daily from January to March 2012 on three TV channels during prime time. The radio spots were played daily from January through March.
The five-year BHS project works with Cambodia's Ministry of Health to increase demand for and equitable access to quality health services. The project is building the capacity of public and private service delivery systems; expanding models for health financing; improving the quality and impact of maternal, neonatal, and child health services; and strengthening the control of infectious diseases. BHS builds on the work of the USAID Health Systems Strengthening in Cambodia Project, which USAID managed from 2002 to 2008.
April 04, 2012