Ministry of Public Health launches the National Campaign to Support Breastfeeding

The first national initiative working to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding by adopting the WHO decree for the need of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child's life

26 August 2015
Group image.
Ramzi Haidar

On the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, "No substitute for a mother's milk" is the slogan launched by the Ministry of Public Health, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Vision in Lebanon (World Vision), World Health Organization in Lebanon (WHO), and the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) within the National Campaign to Support Breastfeeding. The slogan was launched in a press conference held on Wednesday, August 25th 2015, at the Central Administration of the Lebanese University building in Mathaf.

The campaign is a collaboration with LACTICA Association, the Syndicate of Midwives, and the Lebanese Association for Early Childhood Development (LAECD). The campaign will continue till the 25th of next September.

Mr. Wael Abu Faour, Minister of Public Health, represented by Dr. Bahij Arbid, stated: “The only infant formula product that is 100% corresponding to the specifications and 100% natural and free of synthetic and preservatives materials is the mother's milk, which is rich with antibiotics that have no alternative”.

Ms. Tanya Chapuisat, UNICEF Representative in Lebanon, noted that: "Breastfeeding is simple and life-saving. The impact goes beyond saving children’s lives. It helps in supporting their cognitive development and reducing the risk of poor nutrition in the early stages of their lives. Furthermore, it helps reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes in the future."

"No substitute for a mother's milk” is not just a slogan but a scientific fact. The rate of breastfeeding in Lebanon is highly low. Unfortunately, only approximately 14.7% of children under the age of six months receive exclusive breastfeeding. I think this is why we are here today, to work at the national level, and to help every mother perceive breastfeeding as a sacred gift sent by God to her and her child ", said Dr. Reyn Decker, National Director of World Vision in Lebanon, adding: “It has become necessary to raise the rates of breastfeeding through awareness campaigns showing its importance. These campaigns should support breastfeeding and preserve it as well".

From here comes the importance of this campaign. This campaign is the first national initiative working to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding by adopting the World Health Organization (WHO) decree for the need of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a child's life, and following it up until the age of two or more along with alternate or complementary nutrition.

"Breast milk is the first natural food for babies. It provides all the energy and nutrients needed by the infant for the first months of life. Breast milk provides protection from respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, and other diseases that can be life threatening," said Dr. Gabriel Radner, World Health Organization acting representative in Lebanon.

Dr. Ali Al Zein, Coordinator for the National Feeding Infants and Young Children Program, presented the breastfeeding history in Lebanon. Dr. Al Zein is one of the first advocates of mainstreaming and supporting breastfeeding.

Moreover, Mrs. Linda Shaker-Berbari, spokeswoman on behalf of the campaign’s partners (World Vision, IOCC, and LAECD) listed the most important achievements within the national program in the previous four years. Furthermore, Mrs. Berbari presented LACTICA Association, a new non-governmental organization supporting breastfeeding.

A special advertisement was launched for this campaign. The ad will be advertised throughout the campaign’s duration in radio stations and on local television.

The campaign's activities also include disseminating posters and leaflets that encourage breastfeeding. Moreover, awareness lectures will be conducted in all Lebanese regions, and activities will be organized in some commercial places frequented by breastfeeding mothers.

Mrs. Rouba Al Khoury- IOCC's local representative- said: “The organization has taken upon itself the task of lovingly and passionately standing beside mothers. Here, it must be noted that since 2014, IOCC has provided awareness regarding breastfeeding for more than 44,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. Furthermore, the Association has provided technical advice and assistance about best practices for breastfeeding to more than 16,500 women. "

Since the Ministry of Public Health is always ready to support breastfeeding mothers, a hot line will be provided to answer all questions for mothers seeking help. A Facebook page for the campaign will be created to publish related articles.

Dr. Arbid stated, the representative of Minister Wael Abu Faour at the conference, that: “The Ministry, and after this day, will strictly control the work of the application of Law 47 on the organization of marketing nutrition infant, newborn, and means products and in particular the 8th article of the law which states that "It is prohibited for the factory or distributor or any person or his representative to promote any classified product at the point of sale or at health care centers", adding: “The ministry will not hesitate to take the necessary and deterrent penalties against offending institutions whether supplier of milk companies or were hospitals or health centers”.

Media contacts

Amira Alameddine
Communication Officer
United Nations Children’s Fund Lebanon

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