FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL FOOD AND NUTRITION COMMISSION URGES CITIZENS TO ‘’STEP UP FOR BREASTFEEDING EDUCATION AND SUPPORT’’ TO CURB STUNTING IN CHILDREN.
This year’s World Breastfeeding Week being observed from the 1st of August to the 7th of August 2022, the National Food and Nutrition Commission of Zambia is urging citizens to step up for breastfeeding education and support to curb stunting in children.
The global theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, is ‘’step up for breastfeeding education and support’’. This year’s theme calls for more awareness on breastfeeding and its associated advantages.
The known identified challenges that hinder breastfeeding of infants in the country among others include infections of breastfeeding mothers with COVID 19, aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes, inadequate knowledge among mothers on the benefits of breastmilk, myths surrounding breastfeeding of infants by HIV positive mothers, as well as lack of a conducive breastfeeding environment especially for working mothers. In Zambia, only 70% of the infants under age 6 months were found to be exclusively breastfed. To achieve a higher impact on malnutrition reduction such as stunting, the coverage of nutrition sensitive and nutrition specific interventions among the targeted population should be 80% and above.
Furthermore, mothers should note that even in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic, they should observe the standard COVID 19 guidelines and initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continued breastfeeding to two years or beyond. Breastfeeding mothers should feed their babies with nutrient-dense baby foods, fluids (complimentary foods) and water after 6 months and continue breastfeeding. Complementary foods should provide sufficient energy, protein and micronutrients to meet the child’s energy and nutrient gaps, so that together with breastmilk, they meet the baby’s nutritional needs. Equally, HIV positive mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies for as long as they follow guidelines from the health professionals. The Commission also wishes to emphasize that working places should also be made conducive to encourage breastfeeding in work places as this will enhance productivity for these mothers, while assuring their nurturing role
It is no doubt that breastfeeding is important both to the mother and the child, a practice that all fathers and family members should support without fail. Breastmilk is very nutritious and builds the immunity of the baby. It also protects babies from common diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia. Much more, the skin contacts between the mother and the child, as the baby suckles breastmilk, improves emotional and social development of the baby.
The general public, is being reminded that breastmilk is readily available, it is cheap and meets all the nutritional requirements of babies up to 6 months of their lives; and gives the first form of protection from diseases and infections.
Therefore, it’s important that everyone gets involved by educating and supporting breastfeeding because it’s the best gift a mother can give to her/his child.
Nutrition Education and Communication Unit
National Food and Nutrition Commission
P.O. Box 32669, Lusaka
Tel: +260 211 227 803