Breastfeeding is one of the two important public health initiatives aimed at reducing child mortality and mobility, adding that the second was childhood immunization, Dr. Amma Benin, the Head of the Paediatric Department at the International Maritime Hospital (IMAH) has reiterated.
Speaking on the topic: “Addressing the health needs of children, adolescents, and women, a sure way to build a healthy society,” at the 16th edition of the Monthly Stakeholders Engagement and Workers’ appreciation day seminar organized by the Ghana News Agency's Tema Regional Office, Dr. Benin charged health officials to as much as possible trigger breastfeeding within the first one hour of birth.
The event which was monitored by the Communication for Development and Advocacy Consult (CDA Consult) in Tema, Dr Benin explained the importance of exclusive six months of breastfeeding which she said was non-negotiable.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is central to the child’s health and survival as well as the development of their mind - babies who are breastfed exclusively for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhoea,” Dr. Benin stated.
Dr Benin said there was the need to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana which currently stood at 43 percent, a situation she described as worrying.
She said “breastfeeding exclusively for six months lowers your baby's risk for ear, nose, throat, and sinus infections, and may protect against autoimmune disease and respiratory allergies as well.
“After six months of breastfeeding, your baby also has a 19 percent lower risk for childhood leukaemia,” Dr Benin stated.
The Head of the IMAH Paediatric Department stressed that breastmilk is the ideal food for infants, as it is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect the child against many common childhood illnesses.
“Breastmilk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life,” Dr Benin noted.
Dr Benin said World Health Organization research revealed that breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
She indicated that breast milk provided a baby with the ideal nutrition to support its growth and development, adding that the milk was dynamic, with changes in nature and constituents to meet the nutritional needs of the growing baby.
Other speakers included: Mr Kenneth Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of Dalex Finance, who spoke on “Navigating through the current economic crisis with or without the international monetary fund,” and Dr. Joseph Swanzy, a General Medical Practitioner at IMAH, who spoke on “adolescent health issues and how to address it”.
The rest are: Mr. Richard A. Quayson, Deputy Commissioner, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) who spoke on the topic: “Public Service Integrity in the fight against corruption”.
Source: CDA Consult