Save the Children's Every Last Child campaign in Myanmar has been the driving force behind the country's first social marketing initiative to make breastmilk the undisputed, number one product for babies in the first 6 months of life.
Save the Children led a group of partners, including UNICEF, to join the Union Ministry of Health and Sports, celebrities, hospitals, health centers and businesses, to launch the campaign which reinforces the importance of breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of a child's life. The 6 months: Mother's milk is all you need campaign is the first of its kind in Myanmar. The campaign aims to empower mothers to exclusively breastfeed, whilst at the same time calling on support from the broader Myanmar community to help create a more breastfeeding friendly society.
After just two weeks, the campaign has already generated over 60 media articles on exclusive breastfeeding and reached over 3 million people on social media, with an average post engagement of 154,849. Over 1,000 new mothers have received exclusive breastfeeding packs distributed by our activation team at public and private hospitals. Citymart, the country's largest BMS retailer has placed our exclusive breastfeeding messages across their stores - and has also agreed to sell our supporter wristbands at their checkouts. KBZ, the country's leading bank, is piloting their first breastfeeding friendly space for employees – and has now committed to opening similar rooms in another four locations.
Breastfeeding is scientifically proven to raise the healthiest, smartest, happiest, and strongest babies. All global health authorities agree that breastfeeding exclusively, without any additional food, water or formula milk, provides optimal nutrition for children in the first 6 months of life, a crucial window of opportunity in which a baby's brain and body are rapidly developing. In addition to providing every child in Myanmar with life-long benefits, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months also protects children from diarrhea and other illnesses and lays the foundation for optimal physical and mental development. Despite all of these benefits, only about half of all infants under 6 months in Myanmar are exclusively breastfed. At the same time, poor nutrition remains a critical public health problem in Myanmar, with an estimated 1 in 3 children suffering from malnutrition.
"In Myanmar, almost every mother begins to breastfeed her baby. However, only half of all infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed as recommended. Despite understanding that breast milk is best for babies, Myanmar mothers continue to face barriers, as well as a lot of misinformation, that is resulting in poor national exclusive breastfeeding rates," said Michael McGrath, Country Director for Save the Children, a partner organization in this campaign.
Therefore, from September, up to 8,000 new mothers will receive a special mother's latpat (bracelet) pack at selected hospitals and health centers in Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Daw, to empower and support them to exclusively breastfeed. Each pack contains a mum latpat for mothers to wear that can be personalized to bear the baby's birth date as well as the 6-month exclusive breastfeeding milestone. The pack includes a set of monthly markers with developmental and breastfeeding tips that can also be used to share the milestones of her baby's growth through social media. Mothers will receive three additional supporter packs to be given to her biggest supporters, who will help her achieve her breastfeeding goals. The campaign will also help link each mother to the popular Maymay mobile app, where parents can access a gateway to further information about breastfeeding and infant nutrition including quizzes and videos produced by trusted global health authorities.
The supporter packs are a way for a mother's community to show that they support the decision to exclusively breastfeed. Everyone from family and friends to fellow mums can use them to show their support for the new mothers they know. Additional supporter latpats can be purchased at Marketplace, Citymart, Ocean, and CityBaby stores in all three cities.
"We support the 6 Months: Mothers Milk is All You Need campaign because it empowers mothers and recognises the important role that health workers, families, and society as a whole play in supporting mothers to successfully breastfeed their babies according to recommendations," said Roger Mathisen, Program Director of Alive & Thrive Southeast Asia.
"This innovative campaign aims to complement the efforts of the Government of Myanmar in supporting exclusive breastfeeding to improve the nutritional status of infants and children. UNICEF will continue to work on similar collaborations that join global knowledge with local expertise and platforms, including in partnership with the private sector, to improve the lives of children," said Ms. June Kunugi, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.
In order to support breastfeeding mothers when they return to work, the campaign also calls on local businesses to commit to making their workplaces more breastfeeding friendly. Leading Myanmar celebrities Chit Thu Wai, Daw Nwe Nwe San, R Zarni, Wut Hmone Shwe Yi, Sung Thin Par and Dr. Saw Win are also committed in their support to the campaign, starring in films that will be launched on Facebook. The celebrities will feature in a series of posters that will be displayed in health centers and hospitals across Myanmar.
"I decided to be part of this campaign not as a singer but as a mother myself. I know how difficult it can get so we're all in this together to make sure that every mother in Myanmar is able to breastfeed their babies as much as they choose to," said Sung Thin Par, singer and ambassador of this campaign.
6 Months: Mother's milk is all you need is a collective effort by Save the Children, UNICEF, Alive & Thrive, GIZ, 3MDG and LIFT. The campaign's corporate partners are CMHL and KBZ bank. Campaign funding has been provided through the generosity of the Shenzhen World Health Foundation, Save the Children, Irish Aid, LIFT, GIZ and 3MDG. It was designed and developed by local creative agency, Bridge, with Koe Koe Tech (Maymay App) as a technical partner. This nationwide, people-powered initiative hopes to improve the lives of Myanmar's future generations to come.