Ha Noi, 1st August 2014 – World Breastfeeding Week 2014 (WBW) commences today in Viet Nam with a range of events co-organized by the Ministry of Health, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO) and Alive & Thrive project (A&T). With the theme “Mother’s Milk - Life Rewarded”, WBW and its events in Viet Nam this year will reinforce the importance of breast milk and action to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
“The theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2014 reflects that fact that breast milk is vital for life. Every year, breastfeeding could save the lives of 1.3 million children under five years of age across the world. To enhance breastfeeding practices, it is important to create a supporting and protective environment for mothers and children to ensure that exclusive breastfeeding is carried out during the first six months of a child’s life. We should keep our commitment to protect, promote and support breastfeeding by helping mothers, families and the community become aware of the benefits of breastfeeding as well as the risks of non-natural feeding,” said Vice Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien.
As the world counts down to the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), this year’s WBW is viewed as a chance to assert the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding in the Post-2015 agenda and beyond, as well as engaging as many groups and people of various ages as possible on this issue. “I’m especially excited, as this year’s celebration makes the connection between the value of breastfeeding and how it has helped achieve and sustain the massive gains made over the past 14 years in striving to achieve the MDGs,” said Roger Mathisen, Head of Nutrition Programme of UNICEF Viet Nam. “By protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, I believe all of us can contribute to each of the MDGs in a substantial way,” he said.
The Law on Advertisement and the amended Labour Code, which came into effect in 2013, have provided a strong legal framework to protect breastfeeding in Viet Nam. However, only 19.6 per cent of children under six months of age in Viet Nam are exclusively breastfed and one-third of children under five years of age are stunted (Source; NIN Surveillance 2010). At the same time, formula feeding and supplementary feeding of children within the first six months of life is on the increase. In 2013, formula manufactures and dealers have spent as much as US$35 million on advertising of formula products for 1-5 year children, making formula advertising one of the top five advertising industries in Viet Nam (Source: Kantar Media).
“Each and every one of us plays an important role in creating a pro-breastfeeding environment. The burden should not be placed only on mothers’ who possess the precious gift of life. Mothers need protection from policy makers for a strong legal framework and enforcement, support from health staff to receive correct information and support, understanding and assistance from employers and colleagues at their workplace, and love, help and encouragement from families and friends to achieve optimal breastfeeding”, said Nemat Hajeebhoy, Country Director, Alive & Thrive Viet Nam.
Viet Nam is in the process of implementing the National Action Plan for Infant and Young Child Feeding 2012-2015. The plan focuses on the importance of investing in the first 1,000 days to ensure that children develop to their full potential and emphasizes a multi-sectorial approach, involving governments, international organizations and advocates who will focus on six key solutions to achieve a number of goals and objectives. These include increasing rates of early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding up to 24 months or longer to reduce stunting. The Action Plan is expected to help improve mothers and children’s health as well as their nutrition conditions, contributing to the achievement of MDGs related to mother and children’s health by 2015
WHO Acting Representative in Viet Nam Jeffery Kobza said: “Scientific evidence showed that optimal nutrition plays an important role in ensuring better learning, more effective working and achievement of maximum height when children grow up. Providing children with sufficient nutrition means the community can escape from poverty.”
Between 1-7 August this year, a wide range of activities will be carried out by the Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WHO and A&T to celebrate the WBW, including raising awareness and promoting breastfeeding and proper feeding for young children through photo exhibitions, consultation, mass and social media communication. Direct communication activities at provincial/district hospitals, commune health centres will also be undertaken.
For further information, please contact:
- Mr. Trịnh Ngọc Quang, National Centre for Health Education, Ministry of Health (Tel: 84-4-38328994; Email:
- Ms. Nguyen Thị Thanh Huong, Communication Specialist, UN Communications (Tel: 84-4-39425705 - ext: 401; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Ms. Vu Thi Thu Ha, Alive & Thrive (A&T) PR and Advocacy specialist (Tel: 84(0)93 663 0589; Email: email@example.com)