Breastfeeding ups children's chances of survical, say experts
Tacloban City (August 4) -- "Going For Gold By Supporting Mothers To Breastfeed," is this year's theme for the World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7, 2008.
The theme brings to fore the importance of focusing attention on investing in mothers and families in order to give children the best start in life. It goes without saying that it is not enough to state that breastfeeding is the source of nourishment for infants and young children, mothers also need support to make optimal breastfeeding practices a reality.
Mothers need support not only to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth, but also to sustain exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and continue breastfeeding for two years or beyond, as well as giving children other nutritious foods.
Mothers also need support in order to prevent and to overcome breastfeeding difficulties and to deal with competing demands on their time.
Above all, support is needed so that mothers everywhere will have that sense of pride in breastfeeding. Mothers should realize that breastfeeding and in particular exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life, ranks among the most effective interventions for improving child survival and health.
While there are encouraging trends in breastfeeding rates in a few countries, global data show that less than 40 per cent of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed today. This underachievement in turn contributes to the unnecessary deaths of over a million children each year - lives that could be saved if mothers and families were adequately encouraged and supported to breastfeed.
Rapid improvements can be achieved if a breastfeeding culture once again permeates all levels of society.
Mothers need the support of governments in ensuring that infant formula marketing never seeks to persuade mothers that products could possibly be equivalent to breast milk.
Support for breastfeeding is needed not only from the health sector, but also within families, communities and the workplace, backed up by appropriate policies and legislation. The country's Milk Code and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes together with the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, are instruments to guide necessary actions.
The World Breastfeeding Week on August 1 to 7, is an opportune time to call on all concerned to play their respective roles. (PIA 8) [top]