Health Experts Urge Practical Steps For Breastfeeding Promotion

Health experts urge practical steps for breastfeeding promotion

Medical experts Tuesday urged for promotion and protection of breastfeeding practice in the country to protect the health of mother and child.

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 4th Sep, 2018 ) :Medical experts Tuesday urged for promotion and protection of breastfeeding practice in the country to protect the health of mother and child.

According to them, perfectly adapted nutritional supply, breast milk is the ultimate personalized medicine which may save about 820,000 lives a year, 87 percent of them infants under six months of age.

In order to improve breastfeeding situation, they suggested the federal and provincial governments to enforce legislation on breast milk substitutes, provide supportive environment for maternity protection for women in employment and ensuring breastfeeding is initiated in maternity facilities and no infant formula is routinely used.

They also suggested capacity building of health providers and community workers to offer counseling on infant young child feeding and mother-to-mother support groups in the community, accompanied by communication strategies to promote breastfeeding, using multiple channels and messages tailored to the local context.

They said breastfeeding has a multitude of benefits for women and children, regardless of whether they live in a rich or poor household.

They added as per Lancet, a reputable medical journal breastfeeding saves lives and improves health.

It also helps to prepare children for a prosperous future as longer breastfeeding is associated with higher performance on intelligence tests among children and adolescents, Dr Wasim Khawja, a medical expert at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said.

He said despite the high cultural acceptance for breastfeeding in Pakistan, the country has the highest bottle-feeding rates and lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in South Asia.

The percentage of exclusively breastfed children in Pakistan has remained static, with just a microscopic increase evident, over the last seven years.

Dr Sharif Astori from Federal Government Poly Clinic (FGPC) urged for vibrant social media campaign for promoting enabling social environment to support and encourage breastfeeding practice among mothers.

He suggested to involve citizens for organizing multiple activities from provincial to community levels to highlight importance of breastfeeding throughout the year.

According to the Demographic Health Survey, this percentage has risen only from 37.1 per cent in 2006-07 to 37.7 per cent in 2012-13. However, when it comes to the bottle-feeding race, Pakistan has no close competitors as bottle-feeding rates have risen from an already undesirable 32.1 percent in 2006-07 to a high 41 per cent in 2012-13.

Pakistan was among the 118 countries who had voted in favor of adopting International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes during the World Health Assembly in May 1981. However, the legislation came very late in Pakistan when "The Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance, 2002" (XCIII Of 2002) was passed on 26th October 2002, and Pakistan became one of the 42 countries with legislation to adopt most of the articles of the Code.

Currently, all provinces have adopted or passed provincial laws for protection and promotion breastfeeding, however, implementation of these laws is still dream.

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