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02.11.2004 Regional News

Minister underscores importance of breastfeeding

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Elmina, Nov. 2, GNA - Mr. Isaac Edumadze, Central Regional Minister on Tuesday observed that if mothers are encouraged to practice exclusive breastfeeding, their children would be healthier and hospital attendance for children less than two years, will drop.

He said, it is against this backdrop, that the government, through the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, (GHS) is collaborating with UNICEF, UNFPA and other development partners to promote exclusive breastfeeding through "the Baby-Friendly" facility initiative.

Mr, Edumadze, stated these, in an address read for him, at the regional launch of the 'World Breastfeeding Week' at Elmina.

He said the government, was in addition, providing free antenatal care and maternal delivery services for expectant mothers, as well as exempting payment of medical fees for children under five, all in a bid to demonstrate its commitment to the total well-being of mothers and their children.

Mr. Edumadze, said it is interesting to note, that while exclusive breastfeeding is considered rare in many countries, 53 per cent of children less than five months of age are exclusively breastfed in Ghana.

He however, urged Ghanaians not to be complacent, but "put in a little extra effort to bring all mothers on board", to ensure a 100 percent exclusive breastfeeding of babies for the first six months.

The Regional Minister stated that everyone has a role to play in ensuring exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months to conform with the stipulation of the "golden bow" symbol, stressing that "as we wear it, let it remind us of our responsibilities as fathers, mothers and family members in ensuring the safety of our children".

In a speech read for him, Dr Aaron Offei, the regional director of health services, said the objective for the launch of the week at Elmina, was to get the message of exclusive breastfeeding down to the grassroots.

He said it was unfortunate, that the region, is noted for its high infant mortality and high rate of dysentery diseases among babies, adding, "this sad state of affairs", could be attributed to lack of effective and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. He also underscored the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and said it increases the immune systems in babies to fight diseases and also creates a bond of cordial relationship between mother and baby. He therefore, advised mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months.

Nana Ato Arthur, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA), said breast milk is second to none among baby foods, and therefore, urged women to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months, as required.

Touching on the need for peace, he cautioned the people not to do anything that would disturb the peace prevailing in the country, and urged them to desist from casting insinuations and use of abusive and derogatory words during political campaigns.

Nana Akyeama II, Queenmother of Berase, who presided, pointed out that exclusive breastfeeding costs nothing, and urged all nursing mothers to adopt it to ensure that their babies grow strong and healthy.

Earlier, nursing mothers, accompanied by staff of the GHS, had gone on a procession, bearing placards some of which read, "breast milk is super," "the breast is for the baby, spend time breast feeding the baby," and breast milk is enough for the baby until six months", to depict the importance of the occasion.

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