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World Breastfeeding Week marked in Uzbekistan

Namangan city, 9 August, 2012. – 39 family policlinics, rural health points, maternity wards and perinatal centres of Namangan and Andijan regions joined the Child Friendly Hospitals Initiative (CFHI). The ceremony of awarding the certificates have taken place today in Namangan city in the framework of the World Breastfeeding Week. This day is celebrated all over the world, including Uzbekistan, from the 6th to the 12th of August.

The Child Friendly Hospitals Initiative (CFHI) has been implemented by the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan with UNICEF support since 2008. Its participants ensure implementation of the 10 steps of successful breastfeeding. Currently more than 3544 specialists of family policlinics and 1568 health workers of maternity centres and wards were trained within this programme nationwide. In Namangan and Andijan regions, 454 and 745 specialists of primary health facilities, as well as 189 and 286 health workers of maternity centres and wards respectively received the training.

UNICEF supports the Exclusive Breastfeeding Programme (EBP) for babies from 0 to 6 months old through the implementation of the CFHI in medical facilities and raising awareness of the population, promotion and advocacy work on the importance of breast milk, using innovative communication tools.

The 2008 Lancet magazine in its articles on nutrition highlighted the remarkable fact that a non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child. Breast milk meets a baby's complete nutritional requirements and is one of the best values among investments in child survival as the primary cost is the mother’s nutrition.

Despite compelling evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia that kill millions of children 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 the regions of Uzbekistan, where intensive activities in the framework of the Breastfeeding Programme were implemented, including training of specialists and follow-up monitoring, the exclusive breastfeeding rates increased up to 72 per cent (Republican Specialized Research Practical Centre of Pediatrics). This shows the success of the whole package of activities of the CFHI and the Exclusive Breastfeeding Programmes.

However, there are still some roadblocks to improving the exclusive breastfeeding rates: the use of breast milk substitutes and aggressive marketing policy of their manufacturers who try to question the benefits of breast milk, using different, sometimes groundless arguments. One of these is the spread of opinion about the scarcity of the composition and quantity of breast milk and the need for additional elements not contained in the milk of the mother.

In the “Year of Strong Family” and on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the World Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and UNICEF state that strong national policies supporting breastfeeding improve the health of children and call the public for the benefits of breastfeeding to be disseminated beyond clinics and maternities so that all families understand the importance of breastfeeding for the harmonious development and growth of their children.









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