SA’s First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe emphasized the importance of developing local communities that encourage and reinforce mothers who breastfeed their babies.
Medical findings reveal that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life is the single best way to fight infection and malnutrition.
“We need to become a breastfeeding-friendly society and nation,” she said. “If South Africa is to reach the 2025 UN target of an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 50 per cent for the first six months of an infant’s life, we need to empower and support women who breastfeed in our communities.
South Africa currently has 32 % rate.
Just like blood donation, breast milk donation is encouraged and can be used to keep a baby alive, giving them essential nutrients for their growth and development. The donated milk is used to feed premature babies born receiving intensive care. Mothers were motivated to register as breast milk donors.
Malawi joined the rest of the world to commemorate the initiative. The rate of babies exclusively breast fed during the first six months is reported to have decreased in the country from 71% in 2011 to 61% in 2016.
UNICEF in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) emphasized on breast feeding of a new born within the first hour as it safeguards them from the risk of death and disease.
Educating more mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding until six months and the benefits on the infant as well as breast milk donation will help reduce infant death in the country. Alternatively the rate will rise than go down as it has in the recent years.
SHEKINAH ZAITUN SALANJE