World Breastfeeding Week Starts

 

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with World Vision, UNICEF and other partners has begun observing the World Breastfeeding Week on the theme: “Breastfeeding Foundation of Life”, meaning breastfeeding is a universal solution that levels the playing field for babies born from different socio-economic backgrounds giving every child the best start in life.

The week-long annual global commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week started on Wednesday, the 1st of August and ends on Tuesday, 7th August, 2018 and would be observed across the country.

According to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Public Health at Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), Dr. Amara Jambai, breastfeeding infants with the nutrients they need is good, adding that WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting with one hour after birth until the baby is six months old. He said nutrition complementary feeds could then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.

Dr. Jambia affirms that breastfeeding remains a natural, cost-effective way to improve health, wellbeing and survival of women and children globally. He said it can contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on maternal and child health, non-communicable disease (NCDs), nutrition, education, poverty, inclusive economic growth and reducing inequalities.

Dr Jambai furthered that in Sierra Leone, the latest nutrition survey data reveals that 56.8% of infants are initiated to breastfeeding within an hour after birth, while 61.6% of infants less than six months are exclusively breastfed which is far better than the global average of less than 4%. He however stated that, there is need to continue strengthening efforts to ensure infants are exclusively breastfed to reach the country’s target of 80% by 2025.

UNICEF Representative, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim congratulated the government and its partners for the tremendous strides taken to increase the rate of breastfeeding in Sierra Leone. He said when breastfeeding is done correctly or optimally it will have lifelong positive effect to the health of children, mothers and the country’s economy. He said it is the foundation of life and one of the important building blocks to Sierra Leone’s development.

Dr. Ibrahim furthered that breastfeeding is considered as the baby’s first vaccine lowering the risk of infections, diarrhea, and pneumonia. He said half of the diarrhea episodes and a third of respiratory infections can be prevented with improved breastfeeding practices.