Breastfeeding week launched in Koforidua
8/15/2012 10:30:18 AM -
Koforidua, Aug 14, GNA - Twenty years ago, the World Breastfeeding Week campaign was launched globally to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant mortality.
Ten years later, the global strategy on Infant and Young Child feeding has been jointly launched by the UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to reaffirm the stated targets.
These targets were to develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive policy on infant and young feeding; to ensure that health and other relevant sectors protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond among others.
Ghana as a signatory to the United Nations Conventions on Child rights and health adopted the global strategy and since then has joined the world to set aside one week each year in the month of August to remind the world of this commitment, review progress and identify areas for improvement.
This year, the national Breastfeeding Week was launched in Koforidua on Tuesday on the theme 'Understanding the past, planning the future, celebrating 10 years of the global strategy for infant and young child feeding; reviving baby friendly hospital initiative in Ghana'.
The campaign for the exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana unfortunately has not achieved the desired results despite the efforts of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) through interventions such as the 'Kangaroo mother care' an effective strategy for promoting initiation of breastfeeding
within the first 30 minutes of birth due to stereotypes.
Research has shown that children who were not breast fed exclusively in the first six months of life had increased risk of asthma, allergy, acute respiratory infections, nutrient deficiencies, cancers, obesity, and diarrhea and reduced cognitive development.
Many parents have questioned why a baby should not be given water for six months and the importance of such policy since many years ago babies were given all kinds of drinks including water, cod liver oil, gripe water and many other liquids or foods deemed fit for them yet they survived.
For the few who want to practice the exclusive breastfeeding, mothers, grandmothers and in-laws who have been socialized in that way make it difficult for them and indeed the pharmacy shops and chemical shops also sabotage the policy by encouraging mothers to buy known drugs such as cod liver oil and gripe water to boost their babies systems.
Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, the country representative of UNICEF, who performed the launching, said the latest results of the Multi Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) indicated a decline in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding from 63 percent in 2008 to 46 percent in 2012 and in
addition only 46 percent of mothers initiated breastfeeding within the first hour of birth in Ghana.
She said the reduction in the exclusive breastfeeding meant that thousands of children have a lesser chance of surviving childhood just because they were not breast fed early and exclusively, several children were being exposed to the risk of diarrhea and other infections and malnutrition and stunting growth would continue to plague children and added that already severe malnutrition cases were being reported even in children less than six months of age.
She called on the GHS to focus their attention on achieving the set goals for exclusive breastfeeding in the communities to reach mothers, fathers and husbands, older women, mothers-in-law and all those who play critical roles in influencing feeding practices in young families.
Dr Olusanmi reaffirmed UNICEF's continued and unwavering support to all efforts geared towards achieving the set targets for exclusive breastfeeding to reduce neonatal and child mortality in order to meet the Millennium Development Goal 4.
Manye Nartekie, Queen of the Manya Krobo Traditional Area, who chaired the function, said the communities and the queens were ready to partner the health sector to ensure that every mother in the remotest community understood the importance of breastfeeding and its benefits to the child and the society at large.