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Uzbekistan celebrates the World Breastfeeding Week

© UNICEF Uzbekistan/2008/Pirozzi
A young mother in one of the baby-friendly hospitals in Tashkent regions enjoys first experience of breastfeeding.

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 4 August 2008 – World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in Uzbekistan this year through initiatives supported by UNICEF, the Ministry of Health and the Creative Union of journalists.

Though breastfeeding rates are increasing in Uzbekistan, there are still an estimated 26 per cent of children under six months of age who are not exclusively breastfed (MICS 2006). While the timely initiation of breastfeeding  stands at 67 per cent, reports released by the Ministry of Health indicate a sharp decline of exclusive breastfeeding – starting form the second month of birth – around the time when mothers leave the maternities.

“The World Breastfeeding Week gives us an opportunity to advocate for a very simple way to protect children’s lives,” said UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Mahboob Shareef. “The aim of the week is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.”

UNICEF has been working with the Government of Uzbekistan since 1997 to establish baby-friendly hospitals where breastfeeding is encouraged and supported. The programme works with both mothers and medical personnel to educate them on the benefits of proper maternal and infant feeding. Such activities were expanded to primary healthcare level in 2006, and in pilot regions Ferghana, Tashkent, Khorezm and  Karakalpakstan, the exclusive breastfeeding rate has increased to more than 65 per cent for children under six months.

Currently, UNICEF is supporting 176 certified baby-friendly institutions, benefitting more then 300,000 children throughout the country.

During the week a series of roundtables, health fairs and community meetings will be organized side by side with activities and consultations on breastfeeding. Various forms of leaflets and posters will be distributed to maternity houses and community healthcare facilities. Discussions will also be carried out on the evaluation of a family education programme, which aimed at increasing knowledge and awareness on breastfeeding in relation to health benefits such as fewer infections and allergies. This improvement was most notable among traditional Uzbek families.

For more information contact:

Bobur Turdiev (bturdiev@unicef.org)
UNICEF Uzbekistan Communication Officer

Rano Sabitova (rsabiotva@unicef.org)
Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Programme Officer

Tel: 2339512, 2339735, 2337709

 

 
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