Fighting Double Burden of Malnutrition Through Social and Behaviour Change Communication

KOTA KINABALU: As part of efforts to expand and strengthen the use of Social and Behaviour Change Communication or SBCC among government, civil society and academia, a total of 31 Health Ministry nutritionists and family medicine specialists based in Sarawak and Labuan recently underwent training to better understand the importance of using this approach in their work.


Change in behaviour of individuals and communities that an intervention is designed for is necessary in achieving positive results to address malnutrition and other health matters including anemia, making it a skill that could benefit professionals in the health sector.

The training held in Miri, Sarawak from 11 to 13 July and organized by the Nutrition Division at the Ministry of Health with support from UNICEF Malaysia, was conducted by a team of SBCC experts from the UMS-UNICEF Communication for Development (C4D) Research Unit based at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

Participants were exposed to the concepts, philosophy and application of SBCC as a tool that could help them in designing intervention programmes to reduce the incidence of anemia among adolescent girls and women of reproductive age, malnutrition among under five year old children and increasing the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months among post-natal mothers.

SBCC employs communication approaches in modifying people’s behaviour, providing participants an understanding on tackling problematic behaviour in complementing medical interventions. Based on feedback from participants, they now have a better understanding of the needs of different communities, allowing them to implement policies related to the double burden of malnutrition and other health issues.
UMS-UNICEF C4D Research Unit head Dr Latif Lai said,

“We were glad to have been given the opportunity to extend our help to this group of participants. This was our second engagement with the Nutrition division of the Ministry of Health, the first one being with the Nutrition division in Sabah in 2020.”

The UMS-UNICEF C4D research unit was established in 2019 with the cooperation of UNICEF Malaysia and housed under the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, UMS. The unit is advocating the concept and use of of Social and Behaviour Change Communication, apart from conducting research and building partnerships. It has conducted 14 trainings benefitting some 300 participants.

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