GIS - 07 August, 2018: Government is committed to promote breastfeeding as an important public health intervention so as to make sure that every child born in Mauritius is given a good chance to survive, grow and develop into a healthy and strong young citizen.
This statement was made this morning by the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Dr Anwar Husnoo, at Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre Bornes, during the opening of a one-day workshop and the launching of activities in the context of the World Breastfeeding Week 2018. He added that through an extensive network of primary and secondary health centres providing ante and post-natal care, women in Mauritius are encouraged as well as counseled to initiate and sustain breastfeeding as per World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations.
Dr Husnoo announced that in a bid to enhance better monitoring of breastfeeding practices, the drafting of a breastfeeding action plan is currently in progress. Furthermore, a breastfeeding committee will be set up in all five regionals hospitals across the island. Breastfeeding corners have also been set up in many health service points to provide privacy and comfort to breastfeeding mothers, he underlined.
Speaking about the multiple benefits of breastfeeding for both newborn babies and their mothers, Minister Husnoo pointed out that breast milk has been tested for years and is the best source of nutrition and growth for infants. The simple act of breastfeeding can protect a child’s life and it also reduces maternal illnesses, he emphasised.
Optimal breastfeeding in the first two years of life, he underpinned, and particularly exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as recommended by the WHO, has the potential to prevent up to 12 to 15 per cent of all under-five deaths in the developing world. He pointed out that the health benefits of breastfeeding do not last just during infancy, but are sustained throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood as well.
He highlighted that breastfeeding provides a unique early bonding experience for infants and their mothers. This contributes greatly to the baby´s psychological, emotional and social development. In addition, many mothers feel fulfillment and joy from the physical and emotional communion they experience with their child while nursing, he stated.
The Health Minister however pointed out that there is a long way to go to make sure that all children in Mauritius are well protected in their early stages of life. Statistics from a survey carried out in 2017 by the Mauritius Institute of Health had found that, among 480 mothers only 25% had breastfed their babies for the first six months. To that end, he urged governmental and private institutions to assist and support women in breastfeeding and to create the utmost protective and supportive environment for exclusive breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week 2018
The theme chosen this year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action is “Breastfeeding-Foundation of life”. The objectives of the World Breastfeeding Week 2018 are to: inform people about the links between good nutrition, food security, poverty reduction and breastfeeding; anchor breastfeeding as the foundation of life; engage with individuals and organisations for greater impact; and galvanise action to advance breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security and poverty reduction.
To mark the World Breastfeeding Week 2018, the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is organising a workshop at Gold Crest Hotel to spread the promotion campaign of breastfeeding among NGOS and their field workers. Furthermore, a series of activities will be organised with a view to sensitising the population at large on the benefits of breastfeeding, and to encourage mothers to breastfeed.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August in more than 170 countries to commemorate the 1990 Innocenti Declaration made by the WHO and UNICEF in August 1990 to promote, support and sustain breastfeeding. This event was initiated in 1992 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and aims at reinforcing a “breastfeeding culture” as opposed to a “bottle-feeding culture”. In Mauritius, this event is celebrated each year since 1993 and different activities are organised to encourage breastfeeding through strengthened sensitisation campaigns and with a view to improving the health of babies and mothers.
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