First Lady of Republic of Ghana launches one-year infant and young child feeding campaign

The “Start Right, Feed Right - from birth to two years” launch was rolled out as part of World Breastfeeding Week 2020 which has been planned to be a year-long campaign to promote exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months.

07 August 2020
A mother breastfeeding her baby

Accra – 7 August 2020:  Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Ghana, this week, launched a new campaign led by the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service which seeks to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good nutrition for young children in Ghana.  The year-long campaign, Start Right. Feed Right – from birth to two years, which is supported by United Nations Agencies – including UNICEF and World Health Organization, World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization and other partners – seeks to address the issues of stunting, wasting and unnecessary deaths.

Currently in Ghana, only one child in every two (52 percent) is put to the breast within the first hour of life and the rate of exclusive breastfeeding rate of  children less than six months is reducing, as over 20 percent of children are given water in the first six months of their lives.  The consequences of fewer babies receiving breastmilk and a poor nutrition diet means that more children are at risk of experiencing stunting, and the rate of wasting (7%) is on the increase across Ghana's regions.

Children who are breastfed exclusively in the first six months of their lives and are provided with foods with the right balance of nutrients from six months to two years are more likely to survive, to do better at school and to be more productive throughout their lives.

The Start Right, Feed Right - from birth to two years campaign was launched on Thursday 6 August and will be rolled out throughout the 16 regions of Ghana. It will include community mobilization, skilled nutrition counselling support, and advocacy actions to galvanize momentum to improve breastfeeding and complementary feeding in Ghana. The Ghana Health Service – with support from partners including UNICEF, World Health Organization, and other agencies– will work to support mothers to breastfeed and provide nutrient rich food.

The campaign will also provide support to health facilities to develop breastfeeding friendly facility as a model for supporting women to nurse and provide optimal newborn care.

The Director General of the Ghana Health Service in his remarks, expressed the commitment of the Service to ensure that all women receive the support they need in order to breastfeed by improving access to skilled breastfeeding counselling and scaling up infant and young child feeding interventions including the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities. He further stated that the Service will continue to engage cooperate organizations to support breastfeeding by creating a baby friendly work environment.

During the event, UN Resident Coordinator Charles Abani described the launch of the campaign as “an exciting opportunity to mobilize all key actors at the national and regional levels”.  He called on the public and private sector in Ghana to expand paid maternity/family leave and to increase the number of workplace breastfeeding facilities for all mothers working in formal and informal sectors. The UN Resident Coordinator also called for the enforcement of national legislation and restrictions on the aggressive marketing of products that undermine breastfeeding.

The Honorable Deputy Minister of Health represented the Minister of Health, Honourable Kwaku Agyemang-Manu at yesterday’s event. In her speech, she stated, “We shall continue to support the Ghana Health service, the Food and Drugs Authority and other relevant agencies to build the needed capacity to enforce the regulation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes CODE and our own legislative instrument, LI 1667 with aim of protecting the public from harmful commercial interests.”

“We need to improve the current support systems available for women and create conducive environments for women to breast feed in their various workplaces, markets, homes, communities and social gatherings.” - H.E. Rebecca Akufo-Addo, First Lady of Ghana

The infant and young children feeding campaign, Start Right. Feed Right – from birth to two years – will run until World Breastfeeding Week 2021.  The long-term objectives of the campaign are as follows:

  • to increase early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour from 52% to 80% by 2025
  • to increase exclusive breastfeeding at 5 months from 43% to 60% by 2025
  • to increase the percentage of children fed the minimum acceptable diet from 13% to at least 30% by 2025

The campaign will also engage businesses, media and the policy makers to ensure relevant policies are established while prohibiting aggressive marketing.  There will also be an opportunity for knowledge exchanges between regions.

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