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The Infant and Young Child Nutrition Project – a collaborative venture of AIMS (Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences) and UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) was launched on January 23, 2012 in Njarakkal.
Njarakkal is a village, not too far from where AIMS is located. The project aims to provide extensive awareness to improve the attitude, behavior and practice of mothers in breast feeding and infant feeding in this village.
Amrita already runs a Community Health Training Centre in Njarakkal as part of its outreach activities.
“It is estimated that sub-optimal breast feeding in the first six months of life results in 1.4 million deaths of children worldwide,” shared Dr. K. N. Panicker, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Community Medicine in Amrita.
“Even in Kerala where female literacy is high, 58% of mothers are not aware about the significance of exclusive breast feeding for the first six months and correct feeding practices,” he added.
Highlighting the need for healthcare professionals to intervene, he said, “Mothers need support to initiate and sustain appropriate infant and young child feeding practices. Health care professionals can play a critical role in providing that support.”
The Amrita-UNICEF project will train health care professionals who can assist mothers in initiating and sustaining exclusive breast feeding for the first six months, and after that, the timely introduction of supplementary foods.
Optimal infant and young child feeding practices rank among the most effective interventions world-wide to improve child health.
The project was officially launched at the Amrita Community Health Training Centre, Njarakkal by Sampoojya Swami Poornamritanandapuri.
Also present at the inaugural function were Dr. Prathapan Nair, Principal, Amrita School of Medicine and Dr. K. Leelamoni, Professor and Head of the Department of Community Medicine.
“Mothers should be made aware of the significance of breast feeding. Now a days, more publicity is given to artificial milk substitutes which are injurious to the health of the child,” pointed out Dr. Prathapan Nair.
Dr. K. Leelamoni stressed the importance of the critical 1000 days starting from pregnancy through two years of life of a child; this period is crucial for the growth and development of the child.
The Infant and Young Child Nutrition Project is expected to bring benefits to the community in Njarakkal Panchayat and neighbouring areas.
The project is coordinated by the Department of Community Medicine at Amrita.
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