Breastfeeding Week promotes better nutrition and child health in Nepal
Kathmandu, 1 August: World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated in Nepal in the first week of August with the theme, “Let’s breastfeed our babies within the first hour of birth and exclusively up to six months. Make them healthy, intelligent and smart.”
In Nepal, every year 57,000 under-five children lose their lives, among which 54 percent of death occurs within the first month of life. Twenty-two percent of newborn deaths can be prevented through breastfeeding within the first hour of birth.
Currently, only 53% of babies in Nepal are breastfed exclusively till the age of 6 months and 35% are breastfed within the first hour of birth.
“Lack of awareness about the importance of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, inadequate support from families and communities, lack of counseling to new mothers on breast feeding, heavy work load for mothers are several causes that prevent them to exclusively breastfeed their babies,” said Jacques Boyer, UNICEF Deputy Representative.
At present, 39% of under-5 children in Nepal are under weight and 13% are wasted. Out of every 10 children, five are malnourished and are stunted. “The fist milk, colostrum, is like the first immunization for a newborn since it contains antibodies, which strengthens the immune system of the newborn,” added Mr. Boyer. “During the first six months of life, breast milk completely meets the baby’s nutritional requirements and there is no need to give even water or any additional food.”
After six months, complementary food should be introduced and it is important to continue breastfeeding the children at least up to the age of two years. “I would like to encourage everyone, especially the families and communities, to support the mothers to breastfeed their babies for their overall growth and survival,” stressed Mr. Boyer.
To promote breastfeeding, key messages on the importance of breast feeding are being disseminated through mass media channels like radio, television and print. At community level, breast feeding is being promoted through Village Facilitators, Community Mobilizers and Child Clubs in UNICEF supported districts. The Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs) are also promoting breastfeeding nationwide.
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For further information, please contact:
Pragya Mathema, Nutrition Specialist, Tel: 5523200, ext. 1121, Email – email@example.com
Naveen Paudyal, Programme Officer, Nutrition, Tel: 5523200, ext. 1142, Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashma Shrestha Basnet, Communication Officer, Tel: 5523200, ext. 1172, Email – email@example.com