UNICEF good­will am­bas­sador lauds Bhutan’s ini­tia­tives

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Wangmo

The UNICEF good­will am­bas­sador of South Asian re­gion, pop­u­lar Bol­ly­wood ac­tor Aamir Khan lauded Bhutan’s progress in child and de­vel­op­ment. Aamir Khan visit Bhutan on …in his ca­pac­ity as the UNICEF’s good­will am­bas­sador.

“We are what we eat and a coun­try is not made up of build­ings and struc­ture but the peo­ple,” he said while on a two-day visit to Bhutan.

Aamir Khan made a visit to Paro Dru­gyel Hos­pi­tal as he ar­rived to Bhutan to in­ter­act with the com­mu­ni­ties about the is­sues on preg­nant and lac­tat­ing moth­ers, moth­ers of young chil­dren and ado­les­cent girls on infant and young feed­ing as well as men­tal health.

As South Asia re­mains the epi­cen­ter of the global child stunt­ing cri­sis, he made an aware­ness of the im­por­tance of child­hood nutri­tion and to ad­vo­cate fight­ing mal­nu­tri­tion in Bhutan and across the South Asia. He also talked about san­i­ta­tion and per­sonal health and hy­giene.

The UNICIEF re­port 2015 shows that the im­prove­ment of san­i­ta­tion cov­er­age has in­creased and child mal­nu­tri­tion in Bhutan has de­clined from 33.5 per­cent in 2010 to 21.2 per­cent in 2015, and ane­mia in young chil­dren re­duced from 80.6 per­cent in 2003 to 43.8 per­cent in 2015. It is also recorded that 66.3 per­cent of peo­ple now have ac­cess to im­proved san­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

The re­cently pub­lished Na­tional Nutri­tion Sur­vey found that about 25 per­cent of the ane­mia rate for chil­dren is clas­si­fied as mildly ane­mia and 18 per­cent mod­er­ately ane­mia. It is also re­ported that ane­mia in Bhutan is ex­tremely low at 0.4 per­cent in chil­dren less than five years. The sur­vey also found that 16 per­cent of preg­nant women were noted con­sum­ing al­co­hol and al­most 50 per­cent of women was ex­clu­sively breast­feed­ing their chil­dren ac­cord­ing to health guide­lines.

Aamir Khan said Bhutan’s progress is dra­matic. He also high­lighted the im­por­tance of healthy diet and child. As soon as a child is con­ceived and un­til he or she at­tains the age of two, it is called “1,000 golden days” be­cause any dam­age done within this pe­riod is dif­fi­cult to re­verse later. Fo­cused on 1,000 golden days, the good­will am­bas­sador said chil­dren should be put to the breast im­me­di­ately af­ter birth and should be breast­fed ex­clu­sively for the first six months. Solid food should be in­tro­duced only af­ter that.

He shared that in some parts of In­dia, there is a mis­con­cep­tion and chil­dren are not breast­fed colostrums. He said that for the first 24 to 48 hours of the child’s birth, breast­feed­ing is im­por­tant, safest, and health­i­est and it pro­tects the child from dis­eases.

He con­veyed that child should not force to learn quickly as they have dif­fer­ent phase of speed in learn­ing. He said, “Cre­ate at­mos­phere for child, so they can dis­cover and ex­plore” spe­cial child doesn’t mean to have spe­cial school. He added.

Aamir Khan also talked about child sex­ual abuse to stu­dents and teach­ers of Yangchen­phu Higher Sec­ondary, Thim­phu. He said so­ci­ety needs to be sen­si­tized Min­is­ter of health, Ly­onpo Tandin Wangchuk said that the health min­istry is fo­cus­ing on three el­e­ments, namely mother’s nu­tri- tion, young child feed­ing prac­tice and wa­ter san­i­ta­tion and health hy­giene. He added that for the bet­ter­ment of child and mother, ma­ter­nity leave for mother is ex­tended from three months to six months for civil ser­vants.

Aamir Khan said that the ini­tia­tives taken by the gov­ern­ment and putting in place di­vi­sions, or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­mis­sions for the child pro­tec­tion are amaz­ing.

Be­sides his of­fi­cial mes­sages about nutri­tion and child de­vel­op­ment, he shared about his life as a movie star and chal­lenges. He said that or­di­nary man chal­leng­ing against the un­usual fate in cities en­cour­aged him to move into his present car­rier. “Don’t chase suc­cess, do what you love to do. Then suc­cess will chase will you,” he said. “Faith is im­por­tant but blind faith some­times leads to wrong di­rec­tion.”

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