World Breastfeeding Week marked by the Government of Somalia, UNICEF and WHO with a call for more robust breastfeeding awareness
Mogadishu, 01 August 2023 – To kick off World Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry of Health & Human Services, Federal Republic of Somalia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO) called for all to promote and support breastfeeding awareness in every setting – this includes internally displaced people camps, health centres, workplaces and communities at large - for all women.
Breastfeeding awareness to increase the practice is among national priorities in the health sector strategic plans for Somalia. Currently, only thirty-four per cent of children aged under six months are exclusively breastfed and only one in two, or less, are breastfed after six months.
"It is the responsibility of everyone, from the household level through community leaders, public and private institutions, up to policymakers, to actively enable breastfeeding activities that make a difference for all parents," said H.E. Dr. Ali Haji Adam, Somalia's Federal Minister of Health and Human Services. His Excellency also emphasized, "Breastfeeding is a smart investment in the health and future of a child. Breastfed children are more likely to have improved cognitive outcomes, leading to a stronger population."
Somalia also joins the call of the global theme, ‘Enabling Breastfeeding; making a difference for working parents” which focuses on the benefits that breastfeeding can bring to babies, as well as a wider push for making policies that support breastfeeding for all women in every environment.
“Only one in three Somali children are exclusively breastfed for six months. Breastfeeding is not a one-woman job. It requires education and support for every woman, including vulnerable and marginalized women,” said Wafaa Saeed, UNICEF Somalia Representative. “The benefits of breastfeeding for children, mothers, and society are widespread. Giving children the best start in life can improve their health, reduce health care costs and ensures a healthier Somalia.”
During World Breastfeeding Week, awareness campaigns will be launched countrywide. Messages include the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, feeding the child only breast milk for the first six months (exclusive breastfeeding), and continuing to breastfeed for up to twenty-four months or beyond, with the introduction of timely, nutritionally adequate and safe complementary, solid foods at six months.
“Effective breastfeeding support is a fundamental component of family-centered care. The science and evidence are clear regarding the health benefits of breastfeeding both in the short term and in the longer term both to infants and mothers. There is evidence that shows that apart from improving cognitive development of infants, breastfeeding provides long-term protection against chronic diseases to both infants and mothers”, said Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik, WHO Representative for Somalia.
Breastfeeding women must be aware that breastmilk alone is enough for an infant up to six months, and that breastfeeding can continue while pregnant. Together, we can ensure that every mother has access to proper information and support.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.