Ministry of Health, UNICEF and partners celebrate World Breastfeeding Day and call for scale-up breastfeeding practice among working parents in South Sudan
More actions are needed to promote breastfeeding in workspaces across South Sudan
Juba, 8 August 2023 – As the world commemorates World Breastfeeding Week from 1 to 7 August, the Ministry of Health and UNICEF reiterate their call to all policymakers to protect and promote, and to all mothers to increase the practice of exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to six months of age.
South Sudan has made commendable progress in the past decade, and levels of exclusive breastfeeding have increased from 45% in 2010 to 68% in 2020. However, more is needed, as three out of every 10 newborns remain deprived of their right to a healthy start and missing appropriate nutrition in the first six months of life. Breastfeeding is the best way to prevent infant morbidity, mortality, and malnutrition to attain optimal growth and development.
Exclusive breastfeeding up to six months and complementary feeding after six months, along with continued breastfeeding until a child turns two years old, helps build immunity and protects them against common childhood illnesses.
Exclusive breastfeeding is also the most defensive weapon in a mother's arsenal to protect her child from malnutrition.
"It is vital that public institutions listen to working parents about why they need to practice exclusive breastfeeding at workplaces. Simple actions, like giving adequate time off so that a new mother has time to breastfeed, can be enforced at the workplace and give a new generation the best health foundation," said Minister for Health, Hon Dr Yolanda Awel Deng.
When an infant is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of their life, they receive the most nutrient-rich foods through breastmilk, which provides optimum health benefits and ensures their survival and adequate physical growth and cognitive development.
To reach the 2030 target of 70%, we must address women's barriers to breastfeeding exclusively. Providing an enabling workplace is one important factor to that success. While the
Ministry of Health, UNICEF and their partners work hard to ensure that malnourished children are provided with necessary therapeutic treatment and feeding centres are set up; more needs to be done to reduce and prevent malnutrition in the first place.
Exclusive breastfeeding of infants for up to six months, coupled with complementary foods until they turn two years of age, will help prevent and mitigate the onset of malnutrition among children in South Sudan.
"UNICEF calls for spotlights policies supporting breastfeeding in the workplace, such as providing adequate maternal and paid parental leave. Lactating mothers should receive appropriate breastfeeding breaks, work-site facilities and breastfeeding support. Making these policies work for mothers worldwide will accelerate progress," said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan.
Early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, is the best possible start a child can receive.
Breastfeeding is critical in preventing malnutrition, infant morbidity and mortality, particularly against common childhood illnesses like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
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.
For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan