NHS Western Isles has a new campaign to raise awareness of the Healthy Start scheme for pregnant women and families of young children up to four years old.
In association with Argos, every time a purchase is made, buyers will receive their till receipts carrying a colourful eye-catching promotion for the Healthy Start scheme.
The Healthy Start scheme was set up to ensure pregnant women, new mothers and young children, particularly those living on low incomes, can get free healthy foods and supplements. There are two separate entitlements: vitamins and vouchers.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have a child aged six months to four years old then you will be entitled to free vitamin D supplements. These supplements can be obtained from your GP surgery, health visitor or midwife, as well as at other outlets such as Action for Children, the Health Information & Resources Centre located at the Stornoway Health Centre, The Shed, local Sports Centres and Barra Children’s Centre.
In addition, Healthy Start vouchers are available to pregnant women or parents of children under four years if they are receiving certain benefits, and for all pregnant women under 18 years of age.
Pregnant women and children one to four years old will get one voucher per week, worth £3.10 each. Children aged less than one year of age receive two vouchers per week. These can then be exchanged for milk, fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula.
Vitamin D is important for bone health and preventing the bone disease rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. It is also essential for general health. Our bodies normally make most of the Vitamin D through sunlight. However, it is not possible in our country to get all the vitamin D from sunlight alone.
Some foods, such as oily fish and some cereals, contain small amounts, but not in high enough quantities.
Emelin Collier, NHS Western Isles Child Health Commissioner, said “The Healthy Start scheme is a government initiative to encourage healthy eating. Here in the Western Isles we have a low uptake of the vouchers and we are striving to improve this.
"Additionally, free Vitamin D supplies are available for all pregnant women and children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years. Consequently, NHS Western Isles decided to provide free Healthy Start supplements (containing vitamins A, C and D for children and folic acid containing vitamins C and D for pregnant women) to all pregnant and breastfeeding women and small children.
“The importance of having adequate levels of Vitamin D cannot be over-emphasised to ensure strong healthy bones. In our area, we do not have enough consistent sunshine to enable us to produce this naturally and we wish to encourage families to take advantage of the free vitamin supplies available. Partnering with Argos to advertise these initiatives is part of the local campaign to increase the uptake of both Vitamin D and Healthy Start Vouchers.”
More information can be found in the Parenting WI website, at http://www.parentingwi.scot.nhs.uk/
From left…Margaret Aksu (Midwife), Donna Maclean (Maternity Admin Support), Mark Mackinnon (Argos Store Manager), Catriona Libby (Trainee Health Visitor), Mary Munro (Health Visitor), Emelin Collier (Child Health Commissioner) and Lorraine Gillies (Health Information & Resources Officer).