Ghana is the leading country throughout Central and West Africa to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
Statistics have shown that 53 per cent of mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months while 24 per cent of infants are given breast milk together with water. 54 per cent infants start breastfeeding from six to 24 hours after birth, 1.2 per cent has breastfeeding and fluids, 15.6 percent have food together with breastfeeding and 11.8 percent of infants use feeding bottles.
An executive member of the Ghana Infant Nutrition Action Network (GINAN), Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, made these revelation at the launch of the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2006 on the theme, “Code Watch 25 years of protecting breastfeeding.”
She pointed out that inappropriate feeding practice remained the greatest threat to child health and survival globally and in the country.
According to her, the WBW celebration was to contribute towards the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding by increasing awareness about the role of breastfeeding in child survival. She added that the celebration has also to advocate the creation and maintenance of an enabling environment for breastfeeding.
Dr Sagoe-Moses called on the government to monitor and implement the international code and related resolutions and appealed to stakeholders to help the government fulfilling its obligations.
She stated that breastfeeding was the single most effective intervention for infant health and added that it did not have to compete with other foods.
Dr Sagoe-Moses added that infants could not wait for another 25years for companies to comply with the Code and stressed that immediate enforced legislation could give breast-feeding a chance.
A United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) representative in Ghana, Ms Dorothy Rozga, said the World Health Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF had estimated that over one million deaths in children under the age of five could be prevented with improved bread feeding.
She said there was the need for more effective and sustained implementation of the Code and called on all stakeholders and other organisations to monitor the implementation of the Code in a concerted action.
Ms Rozga said breastfeeding and good nutrition for children were critical for the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals, particularly that relating to child survival.
She said although Ghana had the highest exclusive and initiation rates of breastfeeding, there was the need for stricter enforcement and compliance with the Code to improve and sustain the levels it had obtained.