Stakeholders call for investment in Breastfeeding

By Drake Nyamugabwa

As the World Breastfeeding Week came to an end last Friday, co-led by UNICEF and WHO, the Global Breastfeeding Collective has rallied political, legal, financial, and public support for breastfeeding; aimed at benefiting mothers, children and society. They highlighted the importance of breastfeeding and why countries should invest in the practice.

In a joint statement, it states; that the scorecard shows that 23 countries; including Uganda have achieved exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent. The other countries are: Bolivia, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, São Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Timor-Leste,  Vanuatu and Zambia.

The scorecard was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis demonstrating that an annual investment of only US$4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months, to 50 per cent by 2025.

Director General WHO says that evidence shows that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. Every day in Uganda, every day, 52 children  under the age of 5 die from pneumonia and 33 from diarrhoea.

“Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “Breastmilk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.”

In Uganda, the 2016 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey preliminary report indicates that only 66 per cent of children under the age of 6 months are exclusively breastfed, while two per cent are not breastfed at all. In addition, the percentage of children exclusively breastfed decreases sharply with age from 83 per cent of infants age 0-1 month to 69 per cent of infants age 2-3 months and, further, to 43 per cent of infants age 4-5 months.

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