Low breastfeeding rate challenges Vietnam’s development goals

Thanh Nien News

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A Vietnamese mother breastfeeding her baby. Photo: Thanh Tung A Vietnamese mother breastfeeding her baby. Photo: Thanh Tung

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The number of Vietnamese mothers breastfeeding has increased slightly but remains far below the national target for 2020, according to a report released by the General Statistics Office (GSO).
“The percentage of infants under six months of age who are exclusively breastfed has increased from 17.4 percent to 24.3 percent. However, challenges remain to achieve the national target of 60 percent in 2020,” according to a joint statement issued by the GSO and UNICEF, which funded and provided technical assistance for the report.
Meanwhile, the number of newborns breastfed within one hour of birth dropped to 26.5 percent compared with 39.7 percent from previous findings, according to key findings from Vietnam’s 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) released on September 4 in Hanoi.
According to UNICEF, several studies indicate that initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth could prevent up to 22 percent of neonatal deaths.
The report found no change in the percentage of newborns with weight below 2,500 grams (5.7 percent). 
Birth weight disparities continue to exist in mountainous and ethnic minority areas with 7.2 percent in Central Highlands and 6.6 percent in the North Central and Central Coastal regions.
GSO director Nguyen Bich Lam said the 2013-2014 MICS key findings provide important quality data that reflect the achievements of Vietnam’s development goals.
“Based on the key findings launched today, we still have many challenges to address such as disparities that affect the health, education and living conditions of Vietnamese children, in particular ethnic minority children,” he said.
The full report with findings on water and sanitation, maternal and newborn health, education and early childhood and child protection will be released early 2015, according to UNICEF.
According to Jesper Moller, UNICEF’s deputy representative in Vietnam, the country is at an important crossroads for reporting on final progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2015.
“The launch of the 2013-2014 MICS key findings provides a timely opportunity to monitor progress towards national goals and global commitments, in particular filling the in-country data gaps for the final round of MDG reporting as well as assessing the national child rights implementation status.”
“Addressing poverty and inequities improves the well-being of the underprivileged children, and promotes inclusive growth across Vietnam’s society,” he said.

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