Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) in partnership with World Vision Sierra Leone and UNICEF, has on the 30th July, celebrated the world breastfeeding week, which would commence on 1st of August to the 7th of August.
The celebration,which was held at the MOHS' conference room, was to generate public awareness and support for breastfeeding on the theme; "Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet."
In her statement, the Director of Food and Nutrition, Aminata Shamit Koroma, said breastfeeding for a wellbeing is a life-saving practice because breastmilk provides all the nutritional and immunological needs for the child's growth and development.
She added that breastmilk contains the most effective and affordable source of antibodies; supports a child's ability to learn and helps prevent chronic diseases. She added that exclusive breastfeeding of children has the greatest life-saving potential.
She continued that the country is doing extremely well in terms of breastfeeding and that statistically, the District Health Survey (DHS) of 2019 indicates that the Early Initiation of Breastfeeding rates 74%, while global statistics rates 43%; Exclusive Breastfeeding rates 54% and 40% globally.
She further stated that breastfeeding could be one of the best investments for saving lives and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations.
She stated that breastfeeding in the context of COVID-19 wherein a mother is confirmed to have been infected, she should breastfeed following all Infection, Prevention and Control (IPC) precautionary measures.
She said covid-19 virus has not been detected in the breastmilk of any covid-19 suspected or infected mother.
The Director of Operation/programmes World Vision Sierra Leone, Mrs. Grace Kargbo, said breastfeeding is the best way to give babies all the necessary nutrition and antibodies, which provides a vital shield of protection against diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, cholera, Neonatal Jaundice and many more.
She added that WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of a baby's life and continue breastfeeding until the age of two years, with proper solid foods.
She noted that a WHO estimate published in "The Lancet" revealed that an increasing rate of breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800,000 lives every year, of which the majority being children at the age of six months.
" At World Vision, we envision a world where every child has the opportunity for life in all its fullness. Appropriate breastfeeding is one of the core interventions in World Vision's 7-11 Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Strategy. Appropriate breastfeeding is a vital component in all World Vision's nutrition-related programmes. This is aimed at contributing to lower child mortality as outlined in SDGs3", she concluded.