The Ministry of Health urged public and private institutions throughout the country to establish facilities for breastfeeding mothers and child nurseries so that they can continue breastfeeding when returning to work.

Ministry secretary of state Prak Sophorn Neary said the ministry had just begun operating its first breastfeeding room and child nursery at the National Maternal and Child Health Centre, due to concerns about the lack of available babysitters upon mothers’ return to work from maternity leave.

“With the establishment of these facilities and nurseries in the workplace, we hope that women will be more comfortable returning to work and will no longer have to worry about their children. Doing so may also reduce staff absences,” she said.

Sophorn Neary added that the ministry is gradually rolling out the breastfeeding rooms. Plans to expand them to other areas may take another five to six months, or a year.

“Our goal is that all institutions and workplaces, whether factories, companies, or large or small enterprises have a breastfeeding room and a nursery to facilitate and enable women with young children to work regularly and happily,” she said.

Sophorn Neary said she did not have data on hand as to how many breastfeeding places and nurseries are available across the country.

The government made a strong commitment at the December 2021 Tokyo World Summit on nutrition for growth to reduce the stunting rate by 19 per cent, and increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months to 85 per cent by 2030.

The ministry has developed a “communication strategy to change attitudes for improving maternal, infant, and toddler nutrition in Cambodia”, which aims to improve the nutritional status, health and wellbeing of Cambodian women and children through the practice of good parenting habits for infants and young children.

Sok Silo, secretary-general of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, said on April 22 that food security and nutrition – as well as parenting – are trans-sectoral issues that require cooperation, coordination, intervention and investment.

“The cooperation of all stakeholders, including state institutions, development partners, civil society, the private sector and the public to implement sectoral and cross-sectoral policies and strategies is essential to address the complexities of the root causes of nutrition problems in all forms,” he said.