Ghana has joined the world to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) to highlight the importance of effective breastfeeding as key to national development.
On the theme “Step Up for Breastfeeding-Educate and Support,” this year’s celebration was focused on strengthening the capacity of key actors to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across all levels of society.
The global campaign was coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to raise awareness and galvanise action to support the effective practice of breastfeeding.
A statement issued by the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, yesterday, said breastfeeding provided “unmatched health benefits for mothers and babies”.
“It is the gold standard for infant and child nutrition, with breast milk being uniquely tailored to meet the health and growing needs of children.”
According to the DG, breastfeeding served as babies’ “first vaccine, protecting them against common childhood illnesses, and was central for sustainable development strategies”.
“Breastfeeding is key to sustainable development strategies post-pandemic as it improves nutrition, ensures food security and reduces inequalities within countries.
It is a key to child survival and a development strategy for improvement in a country’s economic gains which is important as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said breastfeeding mothers could successfully breastfeed if they had “a warm chain of support” from the health system, family, friends, work colleagues and community members.
“This warm chain is critical to the success of breastfeeding because their sharing of knowledge and information, pieces of advice and encouragement, support with household chores, call-ups and creation of an enabling environment all allow the work of breastfeeding to be easier on the mother,” he stated.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years and beyond.
It said early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, rooming-in and kangaroo mother care which significantly improved neonatal survival and reduced morbidity.
Celebrated every August 1 to 7, WBW aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both the health and welfare of babies, as well as provide a wider push for maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction and food security.
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