Chou Bun Heang, deputy secretary-general of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), recently spotlighted the role of the media in enhancing public awareness regarding the significance of childhood nutrition. 

Speaking at the third annual Helen Keller International (HKI) Nutritional Competition awards ceremony on December 22, Bun Heang detailed the collaborative efforts of HKI Cambodia and the Multisectoral Food and Nutrition security project (MUSEFO) of German development agency GIZ. 

Together with CARD and the Ministry of Health, they have coordinated training courses for journalists and media professionals to effectively report on nutrition and the feeding of infants and children, contributing to national development. 

He said the workshops aimed to boost journalists’ knowledge and capacity, fostering stronger collaboration between the media and professionals engaged in the fields of food security, nutrition and the well-being of infants and children.

“The media plays a vital role in enhancing public awareness about the significance of the food system, food security, nutrition and nurturing infants and children, contributing to the healthy development of human capital, economy and society,” he said.

In the classes, participants unite to create teams of nutrition champions, aiming to boost health information dissemination. The initiative provides a platform for journalists and stakeholders to address information gaps in the media concerning food, food security and nutrition.

During the event, health ministry secretary of state Prak Sophoan Neary spoke about the critical role of optimal nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from conception to age 2. This period profoundly influences children’s lifelong health, physical growth and mental development.

She also urged all media outlets to actively support and enhance the spread of nutrition information.

“We want an increasing number of media outlets to champion the importance of nutrition and engage in educational campaigns promoting nutrition initiatives throughout the country. Enhancing community awareness on nutrition is essential, laying the fundamental groundwork for positive changes in nutrition attitudes across Cambodia,” she said.

Sanne Sigh, representative of the MUSEFO project, highlighted the paradox that despite the growing use of social media in recent years, there has been an increase in the significance of journalism.

She pointed out that a 2021 study revealed approximately 71 per cent of Cambodians actively use social media, indicating significant potential to connect with a large portion of the population through these apps and platforms.

“Studies reveal that social media significantly influences awareness, affecting maternal and infant nutritional behaviours, including breastfeeding practices,” she said.

“Nutrition articles actively contribute to Cambodia’s pledge in promoting health among women and children, aligning with the sustainable development goal by 2030,” she added.