As World Breastfeeding Week commences today…

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UNICEF boss says higher rate of breastfeeding can reduce healthcare costs

August 1, 2018

By Ibrahim Tarawallie

unicef
Country Representative of UNICEF, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim

 

Country representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday stated that higher rate of breastfeeding of babies could help reduce healthcare costs.

Dr Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim was speaking during a presser hosted in the conference room of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to update journalists on this year’s world breastfeeding week.

The week is celebrated every year from August 1 to 7 to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.

In his statement, Dr Ibrahim said breastfeeding is a natural cost-effective way of securing available, accessible, affordable, safe and nutrient-rich food to young children, especially infants below six months of age.

“From birth until six months, it is the only food and drink that a baby will need to be well-nourished and healthy. It is the foundation of life,” he said.

According to him, breastfeeding promotes a strong bond between mother and child and that through adoption of optimal breastfeeding practices, babies interact more with their mothers, stay warmer and cry less.

He called for a strong legislation to protect and promote breastfeeding, as well as regulate the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

The UNICEF Country Representative urged that mothers be given appropriate advice and solutions in health facilities as to their breastfeeding concerns by trained health workers and baby-friendly services that enable them to initiate breastfeeding which is rich in antibodies.

“In work places, working mothers must also be given sufficient maternity leave and support to be able to take care and breastfeed their babies. Establishment of breastfeeding spaces in work places must be encouraged,” Dr Ibrahim urged.

On her part, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Aminata Shamit Koroma, said this year’s celebration is themed “Breastfeeding, foundation of life” and that it lends credence to the fact that breastfeeding is the most complete food for the first six months as it provides energy that the child needs to grow up.

She revealed that at present, 56.8% of infants are initiated to breastfeeding within an hour of birth and added that such contributes to the wellbeing of mothers and reduces child spacing and the risk of having infections.

She called for supportive and comprehensive policies and programmes on breastfeeding and the urgent need to regulate the infant formula.

Earlier, Deputy Chief Medical Officer responsible for public health, Dr Amara Jambai, noted that breastfeeding is not only a mother’s responsibility, it requires the concerted support from all and sundry to ensure success.

He added that the 2018 World Breastfeeding week will affirm the ministry’s commitment to continue to protect mothers from systematic commercial pressure in violation of the code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes.