While breastfeeding is a natural process with proven benefits, it is not always widely practiced in the Kyrgyz Republic. Global recommendations suggest that children under 6 months should be exclusively breastfed, but only 46 percent of infants in the Kyrgyz Republic meet this standard, according to the 2018 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (PDF, 9.56 MB). The median duration of exclusive breastfeeding in the Kyrgyz Republic is just over 2 months.
Since 1992, people around the world have celebrated World Breastfeeding Week to raise awareness of supportive breastfeeding practices. With social media being a primary way of reaching people during the global pandemic, the USAID Advancing Nutrition project in the Kyrgyz Republic launched a breastfeeding campaign on Facebook on the eve of #WBW2020. The campaign raised public awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for the health of both the child and the nursing mother, fostering a positive attitude toward breastfeeding support, and promoting breast milk as the best source of nutrition for infants under 6 months of age.
In May 2020, USAID Advancing Nutrition in the Kyrgyz Republic established an active presence on Facebook to reach people with nutrition and hygiene-related messaging that is relevant, interesting, consistent, and based on global health standards. During World Breastfeeding Week, Facebook users following USAID Advancing Nutrition in the Kyrgyz Republic generated over 1,600 engagements with the campaign by liking, commenting on, or sharing content. Users, who are mostly women and mothers, viewed breastfeeding messages more than 22,000 times. With limited access to in-person counseling from qualified health workers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign served as an effective tool to educate and raise awareness, reaching a large audience.
Through this campaign and other efforts, USAID Advancing Nutrition supports improved access to credible, optimal breastfeeding-related information and skilled counseling that will increase breastfeeding rates to benefit children, families, and communities. As part of the Facebook campaign and regular programming that promotes supportive breastfeeding environments, USAID Advancing Nutrition has produced compelling, accessible communication products in the Kyrgyz Republic. These include public service announcements, infographics, visual images, and video messages from health care workers in Batken Oblast, where the project currently works. USAID Advancing Nutrition will continue to deliver nutrition campaigns through Facebook, educating project’s target audiences and influencing improved nutrition practices.