Social media push on nutrition encouraged

This photo of a mother holding her baby in her arms won a journalist the prize for reporting promoting good nutritional practices. Photo provided

At a workshop on November 22, experts urged the media to promote awareness of healthy eating in Cambodia.

Their calls came in light of a significant increase in Cambodian engagement with social media in recent years.

Un Sam Oeurn, health and nutrition specialist for German international development agency GIZ’s Multi-Sector Food and Nutrition Security Project (MUSEFO), said a 2021 study showed that more than 70% of Cambodians are active users of social media, especially YouTube, Facebook. , Telegram, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. This is a clear indication of their value as information networks.

“Research shows that the influence of the media – and social media – is invaluable in raising awareness, increasing knowledge and changing nutritional behaviors of mothers and infants, as well as infant and young child feeding practices,” did he declare.

“Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. False information can also be widely disseminated,” he warned.

He said that although most Cambodians are active users of social media, reporting or sharing information about health issues remains limited.

Sam Oeurn added that due to the influence of media and social media, it is important for state institutions and their partners to promote their use to improve nutritional practices, especially for women and young children.

He said tackling nutritional challenges was essential if the Kingdom was to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

He encouraged journalists to continue sharing information on nutrition, baby and child care.

Hou Kroeun, deputy national director of the NGO Helen Keller International (Cambodia), said that a training session to teach journalists about nutrition and infant and child feeding was recently organized to increase their knowledge and establish a relationship between the media and specialists working in the field.

Prak Sophorn Neary, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Health, said high rates of stunting and obesity are hampering the Kingdom’s sustainable economic development. In order to solve these problems, the involvement of the media is essential.

She asked that relevant institutions help disseminate nutrition information, suggesting that they share short messages that grab attention and are easy to remember.

She added that she would consider this humanitarian work, as it would help Cambodian children.

According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2021-2022, stunting (malnutrition) among children under the age of 5 has decreased from 32% in 2014 to 22% currently, progress that exceeds the expected results. Nevertheless, 10% of children under 5 still suffered from acute malnutrition – a rate that has not changed over the past decade.

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