Stories from the community in Laos feature during World Breastfeeding Week
In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week 2016, various activities and events were carried out in Laos to highlight the importance of adequate nutrition for women and children, especially breastfeeding, with the public and government audiences.
In Lao PDR, only 40 percent of babies receive this important source of nourishment to start their lives. Formula use in Lao PDR has also increased substantially. The use of powdered milk or other breastmilk substitutes more than tripled between 2006 and 2011, increasing by approximately 15 per cent in urban areas. Research also shows that formula is being used increasingly in many of the country’s most remote areas. However, Laos is making considerable progress toward improving the number of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their children to 6 months of age and events to mark World Breastfeeding Week are contributing to continue this trend.
With support from UNICEF, TV spots aired across Laos throughout the week with important breastfeeding messages. UNICEF also published an article about their partnership the Lao Women’s Union (LWU) to further advocate for breastfeeding support. Dr Chandavone Phoxay, Ministry of Health in Laos and SUN Government Focal Point contributed to the article and stressed the important role that community based workers play in nutrition education as well as behavioural change communication and health promotion.
World Vision Laos shared a story of a mother who participated in World Vision health activities in her village. She learned the importance of breastfeeding for children and exclusively breastfed her baby, Airnoy, for six months. “We can save money doing exclusive breastfeeding, too, and use the money to buy other things that our family needs,” shares the mother.
And to strengthen future efforts, the World Health Organisation will be supporting the Ministry of Health with a breastfeeding video to advocate for exclusive breastfeeding and a high level advocacy event to strengthen the implementation of the Code of Breastmilk Substitute mechanisms and the link to the SDGs.