Tuesday August 09, 2022

Investment in breastfeeding support stressed

By Our Correspondent
August 05, 2022

Islamabad : Pakistan needs to do more to save children from stunting, wasting and other nutrition-related challenges. Investment in breastfeeding support needs to be stepped up by virtue of a collective effort involving all relevant stakeholders.

Views to this effect echoed at an advocacy seminar on breastfeeding practices, organized by the Nutrition Wing of the Ministry of National Health Services in collaboration with UNICEF and other partner organizations including the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization here on Thursday.

Dr. Qibla Ayaz, Chairman of the Islamic Ideology Council of Pakistan, was the guest of honour. He was flanked by UNICEF’s Deputy Representative Dr. Inoussa Kabore, Director General Health Dr. Shabana, journalist Yawar Abbas, and doctors Syeda Batool Mazhar, Maqbool Hussain, and Dr. Saba Shuja.

The aim of the event was to raise public awareness vis-à-vis the importance of breastfeeding and to share accurate messages, particularly with reference to the value pf exclusive breastfeeding for six months. The session also highlighted the challenges that prevent mothers from practicing optimal breastfeeding.

“Evidence shows that an estimated 22% of newborn deaths can be prevented if breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour of birth,” said Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai. “A mother who breastfeeds decreases the risk of developing breast cancer. He said, Breastfeeding Substitute Laws must be enacted to reduce the indiscriminate use of formula milk for children.

Dr. Qibla Ayyaz shed light on exclusive breastfeeding in the light of islamic preachings, examples from the childhood of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), and verses from the Holy Quran. He said, the Quran also talks about breastfeeding your children for two years.

Dr. Inoussa Kabore called on governments, donors, civil society, religious leaders, media, and the private sector to step up efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding by prioritizing investment in breastfeeding support. Dr. Shabana thanked the participants for supporting the cause. She said, “The Ministry will support all initiatives aimed at improvement of the life and and standards of achieving good health.”

Yawar said, the media can play a pivotal role in promoting breastfeeding by disseminating accurate messages and making people aware of its benefits. He said, the use of social media is of paramount importance in today's world. Breastfeeding is one of the most important public health interventions. It’s perfect, entirely natural, 100% nutritionally balanced and completely cost-effective. It has profound benefits that extend beyond childhood. Immediate and exclusive breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Breastfeeding improves nutrition, prevents child mortality, decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases, and supports cognitive development and education.

NNS 2018 data shows that around 4 to 5 of every 10 mothers in the country initiate breastfeeding within the first hour and exclusively breastfeed their new-borns for six months an inevitable requirement to shield children from health and nutrition related problems.