Breastfeeding Week Launched
8/17/2012 2:33:22 PM -
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 breastfed 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 had 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.
She 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 played 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.
The World Breastfeeding Week campaign was launched globally about 20 years ago to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant mortality.