Bhubaneswar: Health experts emphasized infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF) such as nutrition promotion and prevention of malnutrition, stunting and wasting of children using media.
They were speaking at a media workshop on “Accelerating IYCF including complementary foods and feeding practices to improve child nutrition and prevent malnutrition in Odisha” in Bhubaneswar. It was organized by CINI (Child in Need Institute), an organization working for health, nutrition, child protection and development of children in India with technical support from UNICEF.
Dr Sunil Kumar Agarwalla, Professor, SCB Medical College & Hospital, said, “The first 1,000 days from the time of conception to 2 years are a crucial time to give a baby quality of life. Adequate nutrition during this time is crucial to ensure the growth of the baby, health and development to its full potential.”
“Mixed feeding should be avoided and no milk should be given to babies other than mother’s milk for the first 6 months as mother’s milk helps in both the physical and mental development of the child. Also, 400 IU of vitamin D must be given to every child up to 1 year of age,” he added .
Radhika Shrivastava, Communication Advocacy and Partnership Specialist, UNICEF, explained the role of media in nutrition promotion: “People’s trust in media has gradually increased, so media is the only source through which success stories can be described through media reports to emphasize IYCF exercises at grassroots level. Media can work proactively by using examples of positive exclusive breastfeeding stories about a mother and by packaging the information through human interest stories, which can also motivate other mothers at a grassroots level.”
Sourav Bhattacharjee, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF, said, “India is home to one-third of the 156 million children who stunt, making India the global capital of stunting. Therefore, we need to focus on the critical factors in IYCF practices, including early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and introduction of complementary foods at six months of age along with breast milk and proper hygiene practices.”
To combat child malnutrition, the Government of Odisha in collaboration with UNICEF and CINI initiatives have taken up various flagship programmes. With evidence from the pilot initiative, 10,689 AWCs were covered in 50 blocks of four high density districts of Odisha (Koraput, Keonjhar, Nabarangpur and Rayagada) from July 2018 to January 2021. Various occasions like Ankur Divas, Annaprasan Day or Godbharie Day, Special Counseling Session and VHSND on AWC level are useful for feeding demonstration, while household level counseling is more effective.
Swapan Bikash Saha, Director, CINI also spoke while Saswati N Mohapatra, SPM and Dr Mitali Mohanty, SBCC & CBO of CINI facilitated the workshop.