Ministry of Health Launches Vitamen A Nutrition Strategy

The Ministry of Health today will launch its new national strategy to promote the importance of vitamins with the message “Vitamin A Saves Children’s Lives.”

The ministry hopes to create a fresh awareness of the importance of vitamin A for Cambodian children and mothers, and increase demand for the nutritional supplement for children aged 6 to 59 months, as well as for women after they have given birth.

To bolster vitamin A’s profile nationwide, the ministry will use a new communications concept, which includes a TV cartoon spot featuring “Super Hero Vitamin A,” the National Nutrition Program said in a statement.

“We want the mothers to know clearly about vitamin A,” the NNP’s Dr Prak Sophorneary said Mon­day.

“Now, knowledge [about vitamin A] is still limited,” she said, adding that the current information strategy had targeted only the district level and not the national level.

Vitamin A is essential in preventing common childhood diseases and is also needed for good vision and normal growth, according to the NNP, which gave examples of foods rich in vitamin A, including breast milk, eggs, fish, butter, mangoes, papayas and dark green leafy vegetables.

Increasing vitamin A intake among children is an integral part of the Cambodia Child Survival Strategy, Dr Prak Sophorneary said, adding that vitamin A capsules have been distributed at the village level twice per year since 1996.

The 2005 Cambodia Demo­graphic Healthcare Survey, however, reported that only 35 percent of children aged 6 to 59 months had received vitamin A supplements. The government’s goal is to reach 90 percent vitamin A coverage by 2015, according to the NNP.

Under-nutrition of women and children remains a serious problem in Cambodia, and malnutrition is the most important contributor to child deaths and is related to more than 50 percent of all disease-related child deaths, the NNP said.

Studies found that night-blindness—the first clinical sign of vitamin A deficiency—occurred among more than 1 percent of children in seven out of 10 rural pro­vinces surveyed, and in 2005, the CDHS found 8 percent of wo­men claimed to have had night blindness .

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