Ghana’s average total score declines in 2018 – BBF Team

By Patience Gbeze/Irene Akrong, GNA

Accra, Oct. 24, GNA – Data gathered by the
‘Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) Project to understand the breastfeeding
scale up environment and to assess progress using breastfeeding gears model,
showed that in 2018, Ghana still has a moderate scaling up environment.

However, the data said the average total score
across the eight gears declined from 2.0 in 2017 to 1.6 out of 3.0, which is
the maximum performance if all the gears are optimal.

The gears are advocacy, political will,
legislation and policies, funding and resources, training and programme
delivery, promotion, research and evaluation, and coordination, goals and
monitoring – all these must be at work and in harmony for large-scale
improvement in a country’s national programme.

BBF initiative is jointly implemented by
University of Ghana School of Public Health and Yale School of Public Health,
USA, using an evidence-based approach to assess country policy, programmes, and
institutions to determine their readiness and capacity to scale-up
breastfeeding promotion, protection, and support.

Dr Richmond Aryeetey, Country Principal
Investigator of BBF Project and a Senior Lecturer at University of Ghana School
of Public Health, said key reasons for the change in total score  were seen in the changes in the gears scores
including limited evidence of coordination across programmes and institutions.

That, he said, accounted for the decline in
the gear score for coordination, and decreases in advocacy, political will, and
legislation and policy gear scores.

However, three gears, including promotion,
training program delivery and funding and resources remained at the same score
or increased slightly, he added.

He said the BBF Committee identified several
gaps in policy and implementation of programmes, which include inadequate
advocacy and promotion about breastfeeding; insufficient allocation of funds to
breastfeeding programmes and inadequate number and skill of trained personnel
in breastfeeding.

The rests were weak system of coordination
among key stakeholders in breastfeeding, and unanswered questions in
breastfeeding requiring research evidence.

Dr Aryeetey said based on the identified gaps,
the Committee suggested recommendation, which were prioritised based on
feasibility, affordability, and effectiveness.

They included ensuring strong and sustained
promotion environment for breastfeeding’ ensuring adequate funding and
resources were allocated for breastfeeding promotion, protection and support in
Ghana, ensuring strong institutional and individual capacity for service
delivery and accountability.

Other recommendations were ensuring
coordination and partnership across key holders and ensuring decisions on
breastfeeding policies and programme were evidence-informed.

Dr Aryeetey said in Ghana, exclusive
breastfeeding rate and early rates were not optimal, as the 2014 demographic
and health Survey report showed that almost half of children were not put to
breast within the first one hour of life, also, only about half of Ghanaian
children were given breast milk exclusively during the first six months.

He said, for the situation to change, there
needed to be a deliberate efforts to promote and priotise breastfeeding through
various media, protect breastfeeding from threats such as unhealthy marketing
of breastfeeding milk substitutes, as well as inappropriate cultural and
commercial influences that limited appropriate breastfeeding practices. 

“There is also the need for policy and
programmes that support breastfeeding at home, work and everywhere and by
everyone. Continuous monitoring of breastfeeding programmes is necessary to
ensure optimal breastfeeding programmes,” he added.

Mrs Esther Duah, Deputy Chief Nutrition
Officer, Ghana Health Service, said already 634 maternity facilities have been
declared ‘Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly’ and another 88 facilities also met
the criteria and would soon be announced.

She said children that were put on exclusive
breastfeeding turn to be healthier and grew better than those who did go
through exclusive breastfeeding.

“Children with exclusive breastfeeding are
less likely to fall sick as compared to the non-exclusive breastfeeding
children,” she said and stressed on the need to scale up the campaign on
exclusive breastfeeding to benefit the children, mothers and the country at

She said the situation where health facilities
have children nurseries where mothers were not staying with their babies also
serve as a barrier for BBF and  expressed
her gratitude that the system had been abolished to give mothers adequate time
to breastfeed their babies.

Joan Schubert, Chief of Party, BBF Project,
said their target was no more promoting exclusive breastfeeding but also to
teach mothers how to introduce their children to food after six months to
ensure their survival, growth, and development.

Armber Hromi-Fiedler, Associate Research
Scientist at Yale School of Public Health, USA, said Ghana and Mexico were the
first countries to implement BBF and emphasised the need to empower countries
to assess their current readiness to scale up. 


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