Deputy Director General, Ghana Health Service, Dr. Sam Adjei has called for a debate on putting premium on breastfeeding to encourage mothers to do exclusive feeding for the first six months.
"If fathers were asked to pay a token on breast milk instead of the baby formulas on the market to their wives, mothers would not hesitate to complete the six months feeding duration before complementary feeding starts," he said at the launch of a Breastfeeding and Complimentary Feeding Campaign in Accra.
He also called for the involvement of fathers in the campaign to make it sustainable and successful.
The campaign, which advocates breastfeeding for the first six months, no water or any other liquids is expected to save thousands of children who die due to malnutrition, stunt growth and other diseases before age five.
The Campaign dubbed: "The Best Protection a Mother can Give" was initiated by the Ghana Sustainable Change Project and is funded by US Agency for International Development.
Projections from the 2005 Ghana demographic health Survey indicated that only 53 per cent of children were given breast milk for the first six months with 47 per cent given other liquids and solid food before six months leading to diseases and death.
Malnutrition was said to be an underlying cause of 55 per cent of all deaths of children under-five with 111 out of a 1,000 dying before their fifth birthday while 64 babies out of every 1,000 die before their first birthdays.
It also indicated that 29 per cent of children under-five years were shorter than they should be with 22 per cent being lighter than they also should be.
Speakers at the function were emphatic on the benefits of breastfeeding saying it had all the nutrients babies needed in the right proportion. It makes them healthier, stronger and smarter and they encouraged mothers to practice it.
They recommended the early initiation of putting babies to the breast 30 minutes after birth as well as the correct positioning of the nipples to prevent sore nipples and sucking difficulty.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama, said breastfeeding was safe, sound and sustainable and provided the necessary protection against infection.
She said it also contributed to brain development and urged mothers to start complementary feeding after six months with the right types of food.
Deputy Health Minister, Dr. Gladys Ashitey stressed the benefits of breastfeeding before six months and called for best hygienic practice especially during complementary feeding.
Campaign materials which came in posters and breastfeeding bags as incentive for breastfeeding mothers were also launched to kick-start the campaign in earnest.