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Ethiopia, 5 August 2010: Health extension workers and health care facilities play a vital role in promoting good breastfeeding practices

Addis Ababa, 05 August 2010 – The Federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF, Alive and Thrive, Path and other development partners celebrated World Breastfeeding Week for the second time in Ethiopia at the Kazanchis Health Center yesterday in the presence of more than hundred female Urban Health Extension Workers drawn from different sub-cities in Addis Ababa.

Present at the occasion were His Excellency, Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health, Mr. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Country Representative and other dignitaries. After the speeches, participants were treated to a choreographic performance by Ellaz International Dance School on the importance of breastfeeding. A Public Service Announcement (PSA) made with Famous Ethiopian football player and a “Safe Motherhood” advocate Ashenafi Girma with his wife and newborn child was aired at the event transmitting the two core messages of breastfeeding;- initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.

The media also had the opportunity to engage in a discussion with three Urban Health Extension Workers about the challenges of breastfeeding practice especially for working mothers as they go house to house to teach and encourage mothers to breastfeed their children in the urban setting.

This year’s breastfeeding week celebration in Ethiopia will be supported by the newly started Urban Health Extension programme. The Urban Health Extensions Workers deployed by the Federal Ministry of Health will promote breastfeeding by informing minibus drivers/ticket collectors, as well as horse-drawn cart drivers by providing them stickers with breastfeeding messages. A total of 20,000 breastfeeding messages have been printed on stickers in the three major languages Amharic, Oromiffa and Tigrinya.

This year’s World Breastfeeding Week global theme focuses on the ten steps for successful breastfeeding that every facility providing maternity service and care for newborn infants needs to provide. This is known as the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) since its start 25 years ago. It includes steps such as helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth and showing mothers how to breast-feed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

In Ethiopia, steps had to be taken to make hospitals, maternity and child care centers baby friendly for successful breastfeeding. Ethiopia has a plan to make 20% of hospitals certified baby friendly by 2013. (NNP 2008-2013).

“Raising awareness should not be limited only within this week but throughout the year. I especially urge all Health Extension Workers both working in urban and rural areas to play a key role to advocate the importance of breastfeeding at community level”, said Dr. Kebede Worku, State Minister of Health on his keynote address.

Mr. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Country Representative, on his part said “In Ethiopia, today, roughly one in three babies do not receive breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and are exclusively breastfed for six months. As we continue to make progress in our efforts to promote exclusive breastfeeding, we look forward to hearing the good news that these figures have changed, that more Ethiopian children are getting the good start in life that is their right and the health facilities throughout the country are promoting breastfeeding.”

For further information, please contact: 
Tesfamicheal Afework, Public Relations Officer, Federal Ministry of Health, Tel: 0912 140 328, email:tesfami@gmail.com
Afework Ayele, OIC, Communication Cluster, UNICEF-Ethiopia, Tel: 0911 513 060, email:aayele@unicef.org

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

About the 10 Steps to successful Breastfeeding

The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2010 (1-7 August), promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and UNICEF is Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps – the Baby Friendly Way.

This year, World Breastfeeding Week’s global theme focuses on the ten steps for successful breastfeeding that every facility providing maternity service and care for newborn infants needs to provide. These are:-

  1. Have a written breastfeeding guideline that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement the guideline.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
  6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together - 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from health facilities.

About World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries. The aim 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. Continued breastfeeding after six months, for up to two years of age or beyond, combined with safe and appropriate complementary feeding, is the optimal approach to child feeding.

About Breastfeeding Advocacy package

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide. WABA has an advocacy package and website available at: http://www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org

 

 
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