As part of this year's World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) activities, the Kenyan Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation (MOPHS) launched "Let’s Talk Breastfeeding, Kenya," a Facebook site developed by MCHIP. The site reflects this year’s WBW theme "Talk To Me: Breastfeeding – A 3D Experience," which targeted youth and highlighted the need for communication.
MCHIP chose Facebook as the tool to encourage communication on the topic of breastfeeding because there are more than 1.2 million Facebook users in Kenya and the number is constantly increasing (Social Baker 2011). Because the largest age group of Kenyans using Facebook is 18-24 years old, the site provides a great platform to reach a wide audience of young people.
As the Director of the Department of Youth and Development suggested, introducing modern technology communication channels such as Facebook and Twitter may be one of the most efficient solutions to the challenges faced by young people regarding breastfeeding. MCHIP’s decision to launch its first large-scale online campaign to spread information about breastfeeding, allow dialogue and interaction among the youth, and give young mothers the opportunity to communicate with experts, was thus supported not only by statistics, but also by public figures.
The site was launched during a media breakfast meeting that marked the beginning of WBW celebrations. The breakfast was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Health, Medical Services, and Youth and Sports, provincial and district government offices, universities, medical training institutions, research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, civil societies, and media, as well as mothers, fathers and their babies from the Westlands Health Clinic in Nairobi.
When launching the site, Dr. Shanaaz Shariff, Director of Public Health and Sanitation, noted: “We use social networking sites to instantly reach out to friends and family thousands of miles away. There is a lot of information on breastfeeding that can be disseminated through such channels.” Later, attendees were encouraged to "like" the Facebook site and to send it to colleagues and friends to raise awareness and begin the online dialogue.
"Let’s Talk Breastfeeding, Kenya" provides links to information, events and videos, as well as status updates with key messages around optimal infant and young child nutrition. In order to reach as wide an audience as possible, the site was promoted through newspaper articles, radio advertisements, and individual and organizational referrals. As of November 2011, it was viewed by more than 2,800 people from more than 14 countries, with the largest audiences being from Kenya (57% of the total viewing audience) and the USA (28%). In all, 70% of the viewers were female, and the largest age group was 25-34 years old.
While the site was launched as a part of WBW events, it will remain active for the rest of the year to further disseminate information about breastfeeding.