It’s now World Breastfeeding Week and UNICEF Laos and the Lao Government continue to promote the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding a child from birth can reduce the risks of child deaths by around 20%, and in Lao PDR, which has some of the highest child mortality rates in the region, UNICEF has been promoting breastfeeding as a life-saving intervention.
UNICEF is working with the Lao Government and the Lao Women’s Union to equip volunteers with the know-how and materials to teach mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding, and warn against dangerous alternatives.
Solid foods like sticky rice, a staple food in Lao PDR, was commonly given to babies, with sometimes tragic consequences. Tinned condensed milk, often confused with natural milk but full of sugars and oil, was also often used to feed babies, depriving the babies of crucial nutrients to help them develop.
In recent years great strides have been made in educating mothers about breastfeeding as well as how to keep themselves healthy. Since 2006, the numbers of mothers exclusively breastfeeding their children has risen from 26% to 40%. This work, supported by the European Union, is targeting some of the poorest areas in the country.
While there have been improvements, there is a still long way to go to ensure more mothers in Lao PDR breastfeed their children, as well as keep themselves healthy. UNICEF will continue to work with the Lao Government to ensure mothers like Pa and Wie in the video get the support they need to bring up healthy and productive children.