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17.09.2004 Regional News

Government requested to establish baby friendly institutions

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Accra, Sept.16, GNA. - Dr Issabella Sagoe-Moses, National Child Health Co-ordinator, on Thursday appealed to the government to establish baby friendly institutions at all public workplaces and extend the maternity leave of mothers.

She said the current three months maternity leave was not enough for mothers to wean their babies thus compelling some of them to sneak home during working hours to breastfeed their babies.

Dr. Sagoe-Moses was speaking at a seminar on "Breastfeeding-Working and Schooling" organised by the Women's Commission of Accra City Campus of the University of Ghana, Legon and sponsored by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children Fund (UINCEF). She called on the authorities to ensure that all nursing mothers enjoy six months maternity leave to enable them to breastfeed their babies exclusively.

Dr. Sagoe-Moses noted that the importance of breastfeeding could not be over emphasised and urged government to formulate policies that could assist mothers breastfeed their babies properly.

She said nutrition was fundamental for human growth and development and that, breast milk with its natural nutrients provided protection against diseases and serve as the first immunisation for babies.

Dr. Sagoe-Moses said: "Six per cent of child death is due to malnutrition: their survival after sickness depends on their nutrition." She said despite the numerous benefits of breastfeeding including the prevention of breast and ovarian cancers, only 26 per cent of nursing mothers in Ghana breastfeed exclusively.

Dr. Sagoe-Moses said the cause of this was the lack of knowledge about the dangers of avoiding breastfeeding.

Mrs. Charllote Acquah, Acting Country Director, Linkages Project-Ghana Health Service, said it was possible for schooling and working mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively using the expressive method but called on the government to ensure that employers give nursing mothers ample time to breastfeed their babies. She said an enabling environment should be created for women for the proper upbringing of children adding that women were entitled to womanhood.

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