Srinagar, 11 August: World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually from 1-7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve babies health around the world. The goal of celebrating week is to promote and start breastfeeding in all babies within one hour after birth irrespective of mode of delivery.
Breastfeeding is important for a child as it provides the best possible start in life. It provides optimal nutritional and emotional benefits to both mother and children. Breastfeeding is a natural process and is not always easy.
Dr Khurshid wani professor pediatrics said that World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The history of this week-long commemoration dates back to the 1990s when the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) created the Innocenti Declaration to promote and support breastfeeding. Later in 1991, to execute UNICEF and WHO’s goals, an association was formed called the World Association of Breastfeeding Action. In 1992, a whole week was dedicated to promote this campaign.
Head of Department Pediatrics Prof Dr Muzafar Jan said that Breastfeeding is one of the most effective and impactful intervention to decrease under five mortality and morbidity.
As per National Family Health Survey 5 data at arround 88 percent deliveries are conducted in hospitals, but only 51 percent babies receive breast milk in first hour and only 61percent babies are exclusively breastfed during first six months. The NHFS 5 data revealed that arround 27 percent children under 5 years are still underweight and 31 percent are stunted due to inappropriate and inadequate complementary feeding from 6 months to 2 years of age.
All babies should be exclusive breastfed till 6 months of age and should continue breastfeeding till 2 years of age and beyond along with appropriate and optimal complementary feeding to be started from 6 months.
Breast milk is perfect mix of water, energy, protein, fat , vitamins and minerals , everything your baby needs to grow. The antibodies present in Breast milk help your baby fight off viruses and bacteria. Besides decreasing baby’s risk of having asthma or allergies, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and bouts of diarrhea, breastfeeding has been linked to higher IQ scores in later childhood Dr Muzafar Jan added.
Further Breastfeeding has tremendous advantages for mother as it burns extra calories and helps in loosing weight gained during pregnancy. It also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
The main causes of failure of breastfeeding are lack of trained health care workers (HCW), promotion of infant milk substitutes by companies and lack of support to lactating mothers at work places.
Professor Jan elaborated that nutritional counselors should attend the expecting mothers in antenatal clinics and make them aware of advantages of breastfeeding for baby and mother. And further these trained health counselors / staff should attend mothers in immediate post delivery period to guide and support them.
Prof Dr Syed Tariq in his speech said that the availability of artificial feeds for newborn babies , there unrestricted promotion and sale is one of the reasons of increased frequency of formula feeding as women start to give these alternatives feeds thinking that they don’t have sufficient milk for their kid. It is high time to promote breastfeeding and its advantages across the Kashmir and discourage families to use formula feeding as alternative to breastfeeding.
The encouragement should come from spouses and parents to ensure that the surrounding environment is made peaceful with positivity to nurture the child in a healthy manner,” Dr Tariq said, adding that, infants who are not exclusively breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhea according to the recent WHO report.
Choudhary Mohammad Yaseen (IAS) Mision director NHM said that formula feeding is major public health problem, and it is the high time to propagate the knowledge of advantages of breast feeding across JK UT and implement framed IMC act on ground strictly.
It is time to reinforce lactation support services at public health facilities through trained healthcare providers and through skilled community health workers. Dr Mohammad Yaseen Chowdhary added that MAA – “Mother’s Absolute Affection” is a nationwide programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health care delivery systems.
We will use all efforts to make AA Programme a successful in JK to revitalize efforts towards promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding practices through health systems to achieve higher breastfeeding rates.
There should be capacity building programs of healthcare workers. Orientation programs of ASHAs/AWWs and interpersonal communication and community dialogue through mothers’ meeting conducted by ASHA.
The final take home message from seminar was that breastfeeding should be started in all babies within 1 hour of birth irrespective of mode of delivery.
Second give exclusive breastfeeding till 6 months of age and continue breastfeeding till 2 years and beyond along with appropriate complementary feeding from 6 months of age.