Prioritize breastfeeding as a public health intervention – First Lady

By
Dorothy Frances Ward, GNA
   

Kumasi, Sept. 12, GNA – The First lady, Mrs
Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has called on the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of
Health to take urgent steps to prioritize breastfeeding as one of the major
public health interventions in the Country.

She said early beginning of breastfeeding in
infants and sustained exclusive breastfeeding among babies, especially in the
first six months, in life would not only help reduce higher mortality rates
among children, but would also save the country millions of Cedis that would
have been used in the treatment of diseases affecting mothers and their babies.

Speaking at the launch of the 2018 world
breastfeeding week in Kumasi, Mrs. Akufo-Addo, pointed out that, it was time
the misconceptions on breastfeeding were clarified to encourage mothers to
accept it as a cultural norm and give it to their babies at all times.

This year’s celebration was on the theme
“Breast feeding: Foundation of life” and seeks to create awareness on the
important role breast milk plays in the health and growth of babies and young
children.

Breast feeding, according to health experts,
is the most nutritionally potent food for infants and toddlers. It helps to
reduce malnutrition, provides essential elements for brain development and
reduces hunger and poverty in families.

Mrs. Akufo-Addo stressed the need to improve
the country’s health systems to promote, protect and support breast feeding in
maternity facilities and make them baby friendly, especially, in the first days
of life.

Employers must also comply with the maternity
protection provisions in labour contracts, by creating baby-friendly corners
and spaces in work places to enable lactating mothers to breastfeed their
children.

The First Lady called on all to get on board
to improve breastfeeding habits because it has economic and development
benefits.

Madam Anne-Claire Dufay, Country
Representative of the United Nations International Children Fund (UNICEF) said
the country had made progress in her breast feeding approach.

There are excellent opportunities for the
country to improve exclusive breast feeding to raise its image as a model in
exclusive breast feeding in the world.

She said more health professionals should be
trained to offer support to mothers to give their children the best start in
life and help develop their full potentials in future.

Dr. Patrick Aboagye, Director, Family Health
Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) said the GHS had been working with
patrons to undertake training for key health professionals to organize
postnatal clinics with baby friendly facilities to support women for the first
six months of babies’ life.

Dr. Akiko Hagiwara, Chief Advisor, JICA-Ghana
Maternal and Child Health Record Book Project, called on all development
partners to support the breastfeeding initiative in the country.

GNA

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