World Breastfeeding Week 2011: "Talk to me about breastfeeding"
MAPUTO, Mozambique, 22 August 2011 – In the period 22 – 28 August this year, Mozambique will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. It will be the twentieth anniversary of this event, which aims to highlight the importance of breastfeeding for children, mothers, families and society as a whole.
Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention to prevent child deaths. With appropriate breastfeeding practices, at least 13 per cent of deaths in children under the age of five could be prevented.
In Mozambique, only 36 per cent of children under six months receive exclusive breastfeeding. Even though this is an increase compared to 2003, when the rate was 30 per cent, it is still much lower than what is desirable. Only 63 per cent of mothers of newborns start breastfeeding within one hour after birth, as is recommended. While 54 per cent of children between 20 and 23 months of age receive breast milk, the median duration of breastfeeding went down from 22 to 18 months between 2003 and 2008.
Breastfeeding contributes to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 1 (on hunger and poverty); 3 (on gender equality); 4 (on child mortality); and 5 (on maternal mortality).
Mothers are informed about breastfeeding in health facilities and on other occasions, but they still face obstacles during breastfeeding, for example insufficient support from employers and family and community members. Individual counselling and practical support to mothers is still weak within the health system. To improve the uptake of breastfeeding, communication is crucial – this year’s theme “Talk to me about breastfeeding” is therefore very appropriate.
The communication about breastfeeding should not only address mothers, but also family members, community members, employers and others who can build a supportive network for mothers. In addition to the already established communication in health facilities, people are also encouraged to identify new communication channels like internet, social networks, mobile phones and the arts.
UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health’s efforts in disseminating information about breastfeeding, strengthening the implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), introducing a standardised approach to infant feeding counselling in communities, and monitoring of the National Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes.
For more information, please contact:
Arild Drivdal, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabriel Pereira, UNICEF Mozambique, tel. (+258) 21 481 100; email: email@example.com