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Breastfeeding Week 2009 Marked in Sarajevo

@UNICEF BiH
© UNICEF/BHG/2009

Sarajevo, 5. August 2009 –  To mark the World Breastfeeding Week, Association for Promotion of Breastfeeding – IBFAN, non-governmental organization DjeCa and UNICEF organized a street promotion of breastfeeding, with distribution of educational materials and practical advice for mothers, in the Sarajevo downtown pedestrian zone.

The motto of this year’s week is “Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response – Are you ready?”. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life, especially during emergencies when safe water, high-quality foodstuffs or medications are not available, is quite literally a life-saving intervention. In addition to its nutritional role, breastfeeding also has a protective role because it stimulates newborn’s immune system, providing protection against infectious diseases and respiratory infections as well as dehydration, which may be fatal in emergencies.

© UNICEF/BHG/2009

“In the past ten years, fourteen countries affected by natural disasters and war have shown more than 20% increase in rates of exclusive breastfeeding”, said Ann M.Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF.

In BIH, mere 6% mothers exclusively breastfeed their children during the initial six months, while rate of breastfeeding combined with supplemental food during the initial two years is much higher – as much as 40%. In an effort to increase these percentages, IBFAN amd UNICEF BIH have been continually promoting breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding during the initial six months of life. This year, the initiative was joined by a non-governmental organization – the ‘DjeCa’ Parents’ Association, and the result of this cooperation was a promotional photo essay on breastfeeding. A major obstacle to sustainability of programs that promote breastfeeding in BIH is aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes/infant formulas, and the fact that producers are exploiting the lack of national regulations that would effectively regulate this area and prevent violation of the Code and help promote breastfeeding.

The World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated in over 120 countries worldwide, with the support of UNICEF and partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the World Health Organization.
One of UNICEF’s priorities is the support of breastfeeding in emergencies, when inadequate newborn nutrition may contribute to increased death rates.

 

 
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