Deputy Health Minister advocates for improved breastfeeding support


By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

At the induction ceremony of the Breastfeeding Advisory and Promotion Committee members, Deputy Minister of Health 2, Dr. Jelikatu Mustapha, emphasized the need to create a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers.

Dr. Mustapha noted that although Sierra Leone has achieved 54% exclusive breastfeeding, there is still significant room for improvement as nearly half of the infants are not exclusively breastfed.

Highlighting the challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers, Dr. Mustapha stressed the importance of providing education and creating conducive environments, such as establishing breastfeeding rooms in public offices.

She pointed out that the well-being of children, who are future leaders, is crucial for human capital development, hence the need to support breastfeeding mothers.

The newly inducted committee members are tasked with implementing the Breast Milk Act of 2021 and finding ways to improve the well-being of children in Sierra Leone. The ceremony took place at the Atlantic Hotel in Freetown on Wednesday, June 26, 2024.

The committee includes the Director of Standards Bureau, Director of Research and Training at the Ministry of Health, Registrar of Midwife Board, Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Trade and Gender and Children’s Affairs, President of the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association, Chief Executive Officer of Focus 1,000, and the Scaling up Nutrition Coordinator, among others.

Dr. Tom Sesay, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at the Ministry of Health, underscored the importance of nutrition for the health and well-being of the population.

He emphasized the need for women to maintain good nutrition status before pregnancy and the significance of exclusive breastfeeding in preventing child malnutrition and mortality.

WHO Country Representative, Innocent Nuwagira, commended Sierra Leone’s government for its commitment to addressing nutrition challenges and praised the establishment of the committee and the enactment of the Breast Milk Act.

He noted Sierra Leone’s impressive 50% score in exclusive breastfeeding and expressed optimism that the country could reach 70% by 2030. Nuwagira assured that WHO would provide technical support for the Act’s implementation.

Minister of Social Welfare, Melrose Kamity, and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Fatmata Kargbo, highlighted the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, including providing essential nutrients and protecting children from various illnesses.

Chairperson of the Health Committee in Parliament, Honorable Weyatta Songa, called for effective implementation of the Act to regulate the importation of unsuitable food supplements into Sierra Leone.


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