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01.11.2008 Health

Upper East Region launches World Breast Feeding Week

By gna

The Upper East Regional World Breast Feeding Week was launched on Friday at Zebilla in Bawku West District with a call on nursing mothers to breast feed their children immediately after birth.

Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams, Upper East Regional Director of Health, who made the call said one of the major breast-feeding problems in the Region, was the discarding of colostrum, the first yellowish breast milk as bad or poisonous instead of giving it to the child to give the first protection against diseases.

He said there instances where nursing mothers gave water, herbs and other concoctions to their babies denying them breast milk for the initial three or four days after birth which was not the best for the babies' health.

Dr Awoonor-Williams, said the importance of breastfeeding could not be overemphasized because the early initiation of breast feeding fostered the bond between mother and child, and stimulated the production of breast milk.

He explained that babies benefited from the properties of colostrum while the release of hormones stimulated by sucking at the breast caused the womb to contract to prevent serious post delivery bleeding.

Dr Awoonor-Williams, noted that breast milk contained all the nutrients needed for child's growth and development, particularly during the early months of life and was more digestible by babies than any other substitute.

He said exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months ensured that the infant received the maximum health and nutritional benefits from breast milk, because breast milk strengthened the development of the infant's defence system and reduced the risk of many common childhood diseases such as diarrhoea and acute respiratory tract infection.

Dr Awoonor-Williams explained that breast feeding in addition, increased child spacing through the suppression of ovulation, improvement in the child's nutritional status and health of the mother.

He appealed to traditional leaders, parents and guardians to ensure that parents of babies gave special attention to breast-feeding.

Mr Alhassan Samari, Upper East Regional Minister, in a speech read for him entreated all Municipal and District Assemblies to put the promotion of breast feeding on their agenda and Action Plans.

He noted that many nursing mothers did not know the importance of breast feeding, and stressed the need for intensified education and sensitization to promote breast feeding.

Mr Samari said Government attached more importance to children and established the Baby Friendly Facility Initiatives with the Region benefiting from 31 of such facilities.

He noted that another strategy instituted by Ghana Health Service to improve breast feeding in Ghana was the Essential Nutrition Action which included timely complementary feeding, early start of breast feeding and birth spacing.

Mr Desmond Bugbilla, Bawku West District Chief Executive, said the assembly would intensify education and sensitization programmes on the importance of breast feeding.

He appealed to traditional leaders to review cultural practices that were against breast feeding.