Speech by Representative Gopalan Balagopal on World Breastfeeding Week
Pyongyang, August 4 ,2008: The Honorable Vice Minister, Dr. Ri Pong Hun, Ministry of Public Health, Officer-In-Charge of WHO, Dr. Arvind Mathur, our respected and highly reputed colleague and the Key Note speaker of this Technical Seminar Dr. Thane OKe-Kyaw-Myint, Directors and doctors of different hospitals around the country, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a privilege to be at this important initiative by the Ministry of Public Health for the first time in this country to celebrate the International breastfeeding week for the promotion of breastfeeding, particularly exclusive breastfeeding, in the country.
Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition and growth for infants. This simple act protects children’s lives in communities around the world, and it also reduces maternal illnesses. Recent studies have expanded our understanding of the benefits of breastfeeding, making it clear that more must be done to support this practice.
Exclusive breastfeeding gives children the best start in life. Research shows that infants 0–6 months old, who are not exclusively breastfed have 7 times the risk of death from diarrhoea and 5 times the risks of death from pneumonia, compared with exclusively breastfed infants. Exclusive breastfeeding almost eliminates an infant’s exposure to unsafe food or water and saves an estimated six million lives every year globally.
We see this celebration as the signaling of a sustaining commitment in DPRK to maintain and improve standards including the inculcation of an exclusive breastfeeding culture within families, communities and workplaces. We believe that the idea of having Baby Friendly Hospitals (three hospitals will be awarded with baby friendly status - Pyongyang maternity hospital, Pyongsong maternity hospital and Seneju maternity hospital) is a symbol of our commitment towards this noble cause.
I am certain that each one of us present here will be able to negotiate with the ministries, agencies and decision makers to provide an environment that is conducive to breastfeeding, in order to help sustain breastfeeding practices.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Public Health for their hard work and taking this great initiative to reduce the infant and child mortality rate in the country.