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Breastfeeding is the cheapest and most effective life-saver in history – UNICEF

JUBA, 1 August 2013 – During World Breastfeeding Week starting today, UNICEF is focusing on breastfeeding as the most effective and inexpensive way of saving a child’s life. But with less than half of all children under six months benefitting from exclusive breastfeeding, strong leadership in promoting the practice is essential.

According to the 2010 Sudan Household Survey, only 45 per cent of babies in South Sudan are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Children who are exclusively breastfed are 14 times more likely to survive the first six months of life than non-breastfed children. Starting breastfeeding in the first day after birth can reduce the risk of new-born deaths by up to 45 per cent.

“Breast milk is the cheapest and most effective life saver as it is a baby’s first immunization against diseases and provides the baby with all the required nutrients for the first six months of their life. Mothers should be encouraged and supported by those around them to exclusively breastfeed their children for the first six months of life,” said UNICEF’s Representative, Dr Yasmin Ali Haque.

Most mothers in South Sudan do not breastfeed their children exclusively because of inadequate information on the importance of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, inadequate support from families and communities, lack of counselling to new mothers on breast feeding and heavy work load that keeps them away from their children for long hours.

“Malnutrition and new-born deaths in children under the age of one can be easily prevented if mothers exclusively breastfed their children in the first six months. Breastfeeding supports a child’s ability to learn and helps prevent chronic diseases later in life.  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,” said the State Minister of Health, Dr Emmanuel Baya.

Apart from the benefits to the baby, mothers who breastfeed exclusively are less likely to become pregnant in the first six months following delivery, recover faster from giving birth, and return to their pre-pregnancy weight sooner. Evidence shows that they experience less post-partum depression and also have a lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers later in life.

UNICEF supports the Ministry of Health and other partners to promote exclusive breast feeding through dissemination of messages on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, mobilization of communities and formation of mother support groups to promote breastfeeding.

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About UNICEF

UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan 

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For more information, please contact:

Mercy Kolok, Communication Officer, UNICEF South Sudan, (+211 (0) 955639658) e-mail:  mkolok@unicef.org   

Notes to the Editor

  • World Breastfeeding week is marked every year from 1st-7th August
  • This year's World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is 'BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT: CLOSE TO MOTHERS' which highlights the importance of creating a supportive environment to encourage mothers to breastfeed their children.


 

 
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