The National Nutrition Program says vitamin A deficiency in children
under the age of five is making them more vulnerable to disease
Photo by: PHOTO SUPPLIED
A doctor feeds a child vitamin A tablets. About four million tablets are handed out each year in Cambodia.
ANEW national communication strategy to raise awareness about the dangers of vitamin A deficiency in children under five was launched on Tuesday by the National Nutrition Program. The program includes posters, as well as cartoons and TV spots aimed at educating parents.
"I want to tell all parents ... about the importance of vitamin A [and how] it can protect their children against many diseases," said professor Koum Kanal, director of the National Maternal and Child Health Centre. He hopes that the new strategy will get more parents to make sure that their children get the free supplement that is provided twice a year.
Vitamin A supplements for young children and postpartum women began in Cambodia in the mid-1990s as a part of the National Immunisation Days.
Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient to vision, growth and protection against disease, according to Dr Ou Kevanna, manager of the National Nutrition Program. The vitamin is found in breast milk, fish, eggs, papaya and dark-blue vegetables, but supplements are still important.
"We distribute about four million tablets of vitamin A every year," he said
In 2007 the Health Ministry provided vitamin A to 87 percent of children under the age of five and to 60 percent of postpartum women.
In a bid to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and further reduce child mortality, the ministry aims to cover 90 percent of young children and at least 80 percent of postpartum women.
Kuy Sreymom, 40, is already aware of the importance of vitamin A. Her four-year-old daughter has been receiving supplements since she was six months old.
"Before I started using [vitamin A] my daughter often got sick, but after I started using it she rarely gets sick," she said. "I take my daughter to the doctor to get vitamin A twice a year."