The Vietnam Dairy Association has asked the Government and ministries to introduce new dairy products for the school milk programme aside from fresh milk to ensure adequate nutrition and a diversified diet for children.
Tran Quang Trung, chairman of the association, said that the target of the school milk programme was to cut malnutrition among children.
Fresh milk, as well as other dairy products such as yogurt, seed milk and cheese, met the criteria of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Parents had been advised to supplement their children’s diet with a variety of dairy products as a way of diversifying their diets.
Children who were lactose intolerant and could not digest fresh milk could enjoy seed milk instead, he said.
The school milk programme was launched in 2016. It aims to provide all children in pre-schools and primary schools with milk every day to reduce malnutrition, improve their health and physical strength and contribute to human resources in the future.
As targeted, all students in poor districts and 70 percent of students in urban and rural areas will be provided with milk by 2020, helping increase the heights of boys and girls by 1.5 and 2 centimetres respectively.
To implement the programme, the Government has called on organisations, enterprises and individuals to participate, especially in poor areas.
However, only 13 cities and provinces have implemented the programme.
Trung said the addition of dairy products would create more chances for enterprises to participate in the programme. This meant more Vietnamese children would have milk every day, especially those in disadvantaged areas.
In reply to questions about the quality of dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, which have a short shelf life, Trung said dairy suppliers should take measures to guarantee the quality of their products.
According to the Ministry of Health, Vietnam had made significant progress in improving the health of children. However, a quarter of Vietnamese children still suffered from malnutrition, while the average height of Vietnamese people was still lower than the global average: men by 13cm and women by 10cm.
The school milk programme aims to benefit nearly 12 million preschoolers and elementary school students nationwide.
As many as 60 countries worldwide have responded to World School Milk Day launched by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. Of them, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the US, the UK and Thailand use fresh milk.VNA