Breastfeeding is essential in fighting emerging diseases and infections


Source: GNA

The Municipal Nutrition Officer of Ledzokuku Municipal Health Directorate, Mawuli Fedieley, says ensuring exclusive breastfeeding is essential in fighting emerging diseases and infections.

Mr Fedieley noted that it was, therefore, important to create an enabling environment for nursing mothers to fulfill the exclusive breastfeeding requirement to help the babies build their immune systems to fight any infection.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency as part of this year’s breastfeeding week, the Municipal Nutritionist said breast milk was natural and a good start for children.

The breastmilk he said contained all the essential nutrients needed to boost the immune systems of the babies and was also good for their growth.

World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration, which is held every year from August 1 to 7, to highlight the importance of breastfeeding and its importance for the health and safety of infants and young children.

This year’s theme focuses on breastfeeding and work; providing a strategic opportunity to advocate for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding and maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, ideally more than 6 months and workplace accommodations after this point.

He maintained that babies who lacked the necessary breastfeeding requirements and attention were exposed to diseases, which could affect their growth.

According to the “convention on the Rights of the Child,” every infant and child has the right to good nutrition.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), undernutrition is associated with 45 per cent of child deaths.

Globally, in 2020, 149 million children under 5 years were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 45 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.9 million were overweight or obese.

Ms Sharon Larbie, Senior Dietician at the Trust Hospital said children who were not poorly breastfed could be affected with various forms of deformity or disability, adding that children could be susceptible to infections if they lacked the essentials in breastfeeding.

She said: “The breast milk helps to build the immunity of the child so if the immunity is not built well, they become susceptible to various infections in the environment and that can cause disability such as blindness, rickets, and lack of brain functions, where the child is unable to absorb in school.

“Breast milk contains all the nutrients that the baby needs from zero to six months to grow well. It also contains water and anti-bodies that help to fight infections and it is advisable to continue breastfeeding for up to two years or more to improve the baby’s immunity,” she added.

Ms Larbie expressed concern that breastfeeding mothers were unable to feed their babies as required despite its importance and reiterated the need to create an enabling environment for them to feed their babies well and ensure the health and safety of children.

She advocated for six months maternity leave, which would help mothers to have enough time to breastfeed their babies well.

“In the absence of the six months maternity leave, mothers can plan ahead to express the breast milk from day one and keep it refrigerated to help in feeding their babies while they are away,” and called for the need to have flexible working conditions for nursing mothers at the workplace,

Mothers with feeding issues due to Cesarean Section (CS) or other health conditions should continue to breastfeed because it will stimulate the body to produce more breast milk, the more the baby suckles, the more the breast produces the milk.”

The Senior Dietician advised the intake of carbohydrates, protein, fruits and vegetables, grains, and enough water, which would help the body to produce more milk.

Some snacks in between, particularly maize and groundnut popularly called in the local parlance, “ebro ne nkatier,” mashed kenkey and corn porridge would also help.

Madam Harriet Botchway, Administrator, Labour, and Policy Institute at the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said some organisations including the TUC have succeeded in creating breastfeeding corners for nursing mothers at the workplace to assist mothers to feed their babies as required whiles being efficient at work.

She encouraged more organisations and institutions to emulate such facilities to help mothers feed their babies well and save innocent children in the country.

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