By Su Myat Sandy
YANGON, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Myanmar health authorities are encouraging breastfeeding rather than milk power and bottle feeding as breastfeeding is highly recommended as the most complete form of nutrition for infants and for their health, growth, immunity and development.
However, most of the mothers in the urban areas get into the habits of using milk powders and bottle feeding rather than breast milk due to their health conditions, being busy with their works and being afraid of their physical appearances.
Encouraged by the health ministry, Myanmar has started launching mother-related health program this month with the first week of being observed as breastfeeding while the second week will be nutrition promotion week for under-five children, the third week as the nutrition promotion week for pregnant women and lactating mothers and the fourth as the week for elimination of iodine deficiency disorders.
According to experts, breast-fed children are most resistant to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children. Breast milk has disease-fighting cells called antibodies that help protect infants from germs, illness, and even sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Breastfeeding brings a range of benefits for children, while milk powder and bottle feeding are sometimes detrimental to child' s health with negative effects.
Meanwhile, New Zealand has reportedly recalled up to 1,000 tons of dairy products after bacteria were found in the milk powder and dairy products.
In collaboration with the National Nutrition Center (NNC), UNICEF first supported the observance of Nutrition Promotion Week in Myanmar in September 2003.
Since 2008, Nutrition Promotion Week has been changed to be observed as the National Nutrition Promotion Month in August every year.
Under the program, the National Nutrition Center (NNC) and UNICEF have worked together for past many years to deliver an integrated package of direct nutrition interventions during nutrition promotion month across the country.
UNICEF provided Myanmar financial, technical supplies and equipment and monitoring for nutrition promotion month activities through NNC, State/Regional nutrition team and basic health staff.
UNICEF plays a key role in supporting the Myanmar government in formulating the first ever national plan of action on protection of children in emergencies, and in the longer term, a national child protection system with improved policies and helping build capacity on child protection.
In Myanmar, a total of 60 percent of country's population represents women and children of which 11.7 percent are under 5 children.