Make breastfeeding easier for mothers, says UNICEF
Khartoum, 4 September 2012 – On the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF says strong national policies supporting breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of around 1 million children under five in the developing world each year, including Sudan.
“The dramatic benefits of breastfeeding for child survival and development are well known, and we need to redouble our efforts to make it easier for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children,” says UNICEF Sudan Chief of Nutrition Susan Lillicrap.
Despite compelling evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia, which kill millions of children worldwide every year, global rates of breastfeeding have remained relatively stagnant in the developing world, growing from 32 per cent in 1995 to 39 per cent in 2010. In Sudan, the rate increased from 33.7 per cent in 2006 to 41 per cent in 2010.
Some of the roadblocks to improving breastfeeding rates are widespread and unethical marketing by makers of breast milk substitutes, poor national policies that do not support maternity leave, and a lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding.
Currently UNICEF Sudan is working together with federal and state ministries of health, as well as other partners, to promote breastfeeding around the country. The Breast Milk Substitute Code, which controls and limits the marketing of breast milk substitutes, is at the National Council for Child Welfare for endorsement by the president.
Moreover, UNICEF is working closely with the Ministry of Health to develop a five-year breastfeeding strategy to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates and mainstream breastfeeding training for health workers to encourage and counsel mothers about the practice.
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