Breastfeeding campaign launched in Vietnam to prevent stunting

A breastfeeding and complementary feeding campaign was launched in Vietnam on Wednesday (Dec. 14) to combat stunted growth among children under five.

The campaign, promoted through mass media, is under Alive & Thrive, a five-year initiative funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative, now on its third year, aims to improve infant and young child feeding practices among mothers in Vietnam.

“Breastfeeding is the single most important factor in child survival and development,” said Nemat Hajeebhoy, Alive & Thrive’s senior country director in Vietnam.

For 2012, the campaign will urge mothers to breastfeed their babies within the first hour after birth and to continue doing so for the next six months — without any water, food or formula milk. It will also educate mothers on how they can produce more milk for their babies.

The campaign will be aired on commercials on TV and popular websites such as Vietnamnet, Vnexpress, Webtretho, Yahoo, and women and entertainment networks. Commercials and educational videos about the campaign will also be seen on many counseling facilities and hospitals in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Khanh Hoa and other cities and provinces in Vietnam.

Lack of early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding in Vietnam, accompanied by inappropriate complementary feeding, has led to a third of Vietnamese children suffering from stunted growth, according to UNICEF. Less than 20 percent of Vietnamese infants are breastfed in their first six months, considered to be the “critical period” for infants. If mothers practice proper breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, Vietnam’s National Institute of Nutrition says stunting in children under five could be reduced 26 percent and 23 percent by 2015 and 2020, respectively.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.