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Breastfeeding Week in Kosovo, 1 – 7 October 2010

Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps. The Baby-Friendly Way

Ferizaj/Uroševac, 1 October 2010 – UNICEF Office in Kosovo, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, opened the Breastfeeding Week in Kosovo 2010 (1 – 7 October 2010). This year’s motto, ‘Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps. The baby-friendly way’, focuses on the critical role of health facilities in the establishment of good breastfeeding practices.

Improving the health status of children in Kosovo still remains one of the top priorities for UNICEF and its partner organisations. To mark this year’s Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, plans to host a promotional activity aimed at disseminating information and raising awareness among health workers, pregnant women, mothers as well as the general public throughout Kosovo, about the importance of breastfeeding.

“Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition and growth for infants” said Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Head of Office. “Breastfeeding protects children’s lives and reduces maternal illnesses. It also boosts children’s immune systems and helps build the mother and child bond.”

Research shows that, the best and healthiest feeding option for children is breastfeeding within the first half hour after birth, exclusively in the first six months and continuous breastfeeding until the second year or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding of children during the first six months of life decreases infant mortality as a consequence of usual child diseases and malnutrition, protects the child against infections and allergies and generally helps improving short and long term child health.

More and more studies have shown also that effective implementation of the Ten Steps, with continuous pre and post-natal support of mothers in health facilities, contributes to increased breastfeeding initiatives and encourages exclusive breastfeeding at local, national and international level.

In a bid to give every child in Kosovo a healthy start, UNICEF and its partners in a joint effort, work in promoting the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding through a series of initiatives that will be used to appeal to the policy-makers, decision-makers and health workers, as well as family and community members to enable adequate conditions for mothers to exclusively feed their children with breast milk. In this regard, UNICEF further supports the role of Child Friendly Institutions. The purpose of this initiative is to empower every woman to take a just decision with regard to feeding her child, and in case breastfeeding is her choice, to be supported by family and institutions and enabled to exclusively breastfeed her child during the first six months and continue further. In Kosovo, 18 maternity wards have been certified as Baby Friendly Institutions, enabling a healthy start with breastfeeding. Recently, the Ministry of Health has endorsed recommendations of assessors to certify three more maternities.

As a result of the successes achieved thus far and aiming to further promote breastfeeding practices throughout Kosovo, UNICEF organised a visit to the Clinic of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Ferizaj/Uroševac Hospital by the UNKT Good Will Champion for the Achievement of MDGs, actress Teuta Krasniqi, her husband, Mr. Blerim Muharram - Blero, the Advisor for Health in the Ministry of Health, Mr. Lulzim Çela, and Head of UNICEF Office, Mr. Johannes Wedenig. After completing the visit to the maternity ward, a press conference was held in the conference room of the hospital. In addition UNICEF, in cooperation with Kosovo Red Cross, also planned during this week educational sessions for parents to further raise awareness and support breastfeeding



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