Under 6-year-old children in northern Bac Ninh province will have a chance to drink milk at their kindergartens under a programme recently approved by the provincial People’s Committee.

This is part of Bac Ninh’s efforts to promote physical growth of under-5 children in the locality, where the rates of weight and height malnutrition among the group are 12.8 percent and 26.8 percent, respectively.

The “milk for schools” programme, which runs from 2013 through 2017, costs some 177 billion VND with 50 percent coming from the local budget, 25 percent from the milk supplier and the remaining from children’s parents.

It will be first piloted in 24 kindergartens in the 2013-2014 school year before reaching all kindergartens across the locality.

Accordingly, each child will drink 200 ml of milk manufactured by Vietnam Diary Products JSC (Vinamilk) three times a week.

In Vietnam, each person consumed 14.8 litres of milk on average in 2010, while the figure was 23 litres in Thailand, 25 litres in China, and 70 litres in Japan.

Before Bac Ninh, the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau has joined hands with parents in the locality to launch a three-year 90 billion VND milk for schools programme to benefit around 40,000 children a year.

The Fund for Support of Children of the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affair has since 2008 provided nearly 18 million glasses of milk free for close to 300,000 poor children, orphans, and children with disabilities in social nursing homes, and primary pupils in border, island, and difficulty-ridden areas across the country.

According to UNICEF, one-third of Vietnamese children under the age of 5 are stunted as a result of malnutrition. But Vietnam is making progress, currently leading the way in decreasing rates of malnutrition.

Data from the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals (MDG) initiative says that 44 percent of Vietnamese children under 5 were malnourished in 1994, compared to 17 percent in 2010. Overall, rates of child malnutrition are declining by 1.5 percent every year.-VNA