World Breastfeeding Week 2018 was observed in Eritrea under the theme, "Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life" at BERIK sub-region on 3 August 2018 in Erirea.
Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
World Breastfeeding week was nationally celebrated in Eritrea from 1 to 7 August 2018.
Various awareness activities were carried out throughout the six regions in the country during the week, including health education on breastfeeding in all health facilities and informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding. Banners were displayed on streets of Asmara and key messages has been disseminating using all media.
Dr Tesfay Solomon, highlighted that 98% of Eritrean mothers breastfeed their children. He added that the main objective of the campaign was to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies. He emphasized the importance and the multiple benefits of breastfeeding for the mother, the child and society as a whole.
Dr Theodros Kesete, HPR\WHO, on behalf of the Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti and the WHO Representative for Eritrea, Dr Josephine Namboze read the message. He said that WHO is working with UNICEF and partners to promote the importance of helping mothers breastfeed their babies within that crucial first hour of life. Skin-to-skin contact along with suckling at the breast stimulate the production of breast milk, including colostrum, also called the baby's 'first vaccine', which is extremely rich in nutrients and antibodies.
An estimated 78 million babies - or three in five - are not breastfeed within the first hour of life, putting them at higher risk of death and disease and making them less likely to continue breastfeeding, say UNICEF and WHO.
In the event, a breastfeeding general knowledge contest was organized for mothers and winners of the competition were given prizes.
The breastfeeding questions that were asked during the competition focused on key messages that are in line with the WHO and UNICEF recommendations, including:
Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life;
Exclusive breastfeeding - that is, the infant only receives breast milk without any additional food or drink, not even water;
Breastfeeding on demand - that is, as often as the child wants , day and night;
No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Toward the closing of the event songs, dramas and poem on the benefits of breastfeeding was presented by Fiyorina Cultural Show Group.
"Breastfeeding gives children the best possible start in life," says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director- General. "We must urgently scale up support to mothers - be it from family members, health care workers, employers and governments, so they can give their children the start they deserve."