Health experts have called for the promotion of breastfeeding stating that breast milk is not only essential for the health of the newborn but also protects the mother from various diseases.
Speaking at an awareness session at Westridge Railway Hospital as part of International Breastfeeding Week, Central Chairwoman of the Islamic Medical Association of Pakistan Women’s Wing, Dr Naveed Butt, said there was a need to convince new mothers that breast milk is vital for the health of newborns as it boosts their immunity and protects them from many diseases.
“Breast milk is full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Breastfed babies live a healthy life, in addition to forming a loving bond between a mother and a child. It also prevents breast cancer in women and also reduces the risk of other complicated diseases,” she said.
Meanwhile, former Major General of the Army Medical College, Dr. Salman Ali, said during a Riphah University radio conversation regarding International Breastfeeding Week that “it it is a national emergency; our country has the highest mortality rate for newborns and young children under the age of five compared to the rest of the world.
In our country, there is a lack of knowledge about the importance and benefits of breast milk, which is vital in reducing these deaths.
He said the media and health professionals should work together to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding.
It should be noted here that the World Breastfeeding Week, which lasts from August 1 to 7, has also been observed in Pakistan with the organization of various seminars on the subject. However, in practice, the necessary legal measures to promote breastfeeding and discourage the use of infant formula remain inactive.
The government enacted the Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Protection Ordinance 2002 (XCIII of 2002) on 26 October 2002. After the 18th Constitutional Amendment, the four provincial governments replicated the legislation. However, little effort has been made to enforce the law nationally or provincially.
Optimal breastfeeding means that a child should be breastfed immediately within the first hour after birth and exclusively breastfed, without water, fruit, formula or other foods, for the first six months. Thereafter, breastfeeding should continue for six months to two years or beyond and be supplemented with other safe and nutritionally adequate foods, as recommended by the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Optimal breastfeeding means that a child should be immediately breastfed within the first hour after delivery and exclusively breastfed.
In Pakistan, where neonatal and infant mortality rates are high, breastfeeding within the first hour of birth can make a vital difference to a child’s chances of survival, the speakers suggested.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8e2022.