July 31, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Country Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday said recent data revealed that proportion of exclusive breastfeeding rate in Sierra Leone has improved up to 62%.
Dr. Hamid El Bashir Ibrahim congratulated the government and partners for the tremendous efforts made to influence and increase breastfeeding rate across the country.
“This is a tremendous achievement that will contribute to the development of children. Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in saving and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations,” he said.
He was speaking yesterday in the conference room of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation during a presser hosted to commence this year’s World Breastfeeding Week on the theme; “Empower parents, enable breastfeeding”.
He stated that since breast milk does not require industry for production, breastfeeding is a natural and cost-effective way of securing affordable, safe and nutrient-rich food to young children, especially infants below six months of age.
He noted that economically, higher rate of breastfeeding can reduce healthcare costs due to the proven benefit of breastfeeding for children and women’s health.
“Breastfed babies are likely to thrive mentally with higher intelligent quotient, better school attainment and better salary in later years. From birth until six months, it is the only food and drink that a baby will need to be well-nourished and healthy,” he noted.
As chair of the UN Network for Scaling Up Nutrition in Sierra Leone, Dr. El Bashir Ibrahim said the promotion and protection of breastfeeding is fundamental in the fight for the survival and development of children, adding that optimal breastfeeding has lifelong positive effects to the health of children, mothers and the country’s economy.
He registered the continued commitment of the UN family in Sierra Leone to work with the government through the health ministry and partners to create the enabling environment that empowers mothers to breastfeed optimally with support from fathers, families, communities and workplaces, among others.
Earlier, Director of Food and Nutrition, Aminata S. Koroma said: “We need to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. We need to make sure we are all empowered. We know breastfeeding is the mother domain but we have to empower around the parent. It is a team effort and not a one man’s business.”
She said the World Breastfeeding Week is meant for intensive sensitization for breastfeeding as the breast milk is suitable and tailor-made on the first six months of a child’s life.
She stressed the need for all and sundry to support mothers to breastfeed as it is very tedious because it takes a lot of time for a mother to breastfeed.
“We need every child to be put to breastfeed within the first hour of birth. We are above the global average for exclusive breastfeeding but we need to work harder because we have a goal of 80% by 2030,” she said.
Founder and Executive Director of Focus 1000, Mohamed B. Jalloh, describe breastfeeding as the foundation of life, adding that breast milk is safe for the baby, cheaper for the family and good for the mother.
“The key to a successful first 1000 days of a child’s life is early and exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months. We need to empower the family because it takes a family for the mother to be able to breastfeed exclusively,” he said.