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At a glance: Guinea

World Breastfeeding Week launches in Guinea

© UNICEF Guinea/2009/ Baro
Mothers, health agents and representatives from various non-governmental organizations at the launch of World Breastfeeding Week in Donka, Guinea.

DONKA, Guinea, 4 August 2009 – Donka Hospital was the site of the launch of World Breastfeeding Week on 1 August in Guinea. This year’s theme: ‘Breastfeeding, a Vital Emergency Response. Are You Ready?’ 

During the week-long event, health centres are holding open houses to deliver messages about proper breastfeeding. To assist, 5,000 posters and 1,000 blue aprons sporting the logos of UNICEF and Guinea’s Ministry of Health have been provided. And the two major national hospitals will receive new sanitation supplies for their maternity wards.

Minister of Health Dr. A. Diabi and UNICEF Representative in Guinea Dr. Mohamed Cissé – along with health professionals, mothers, representatives from non-governmental organizations and UN staff – gathered on Saturday to celebrate the launch of this very important week for the health of mothers and children.

Breastfeeding challenges

At the launch, following a series of official speeches by Dr. Diabi and Dr. Cissé, a group of students presented a short play about a woman living with HIV who was afraid to breastfeed her baby.

As the play progressed, the mother received advice from a doctor on how to keep her child healthy. In her particular situation, she was advised to breastfeed and to visit her local health centre regularly for check-ups, food and medicine. (UNICEF and other UN agencies recommend exclusive breastfeeding for HIV-infected women for the first six months of life unless replacement feeding is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable and safe before that time.)

In addition to such live events, radio stations have organized debates on breastfeeding in five languages, and national television is hosting a roundtable and airing spots on the topic for the entire week. Through the history of World Breastfeeding Week in Guinea, rural and private radio stations, as well as national television stations, have all taken part in breastfeeding promotion campaigns.

'Mother-friendly' clubs

Also for the past few years, UNICEF and the Ministry of Health have been working on setting up 'mother-friendly' clubs in 20 prefectures of Guinea. The clubs offer local communities advice about proper breastfeeding.

A group of midwives has been very active in taking actions to promote exclusive breastfeeding. The older women are using their personal experiences to train younger health agents and talk to groups of women about the importance of the practice.

“Before I met the ladies, I used to give artificial milk starting the first week, and my kids were always sick,” said Mariama Siré Dieng, 33, a mother of five. “Now I have become a member of the club and I give advice to other women of the community.”

Mhawa Mara, 16, the mother of a healthy-looking six-month-old baby named André, says of breastfeeding: “I respected all I was told, and look at my boy! Everybody who sees him likes him! And it does not cost me a penny to feed him – my husband likes that as well.”



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