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A national campaign promotes breastfeeding in Tajikistan

© UNICEF / Pirozzi / 2007
A health worker in southern Tajikistan teaches a mother how to breastfeed her newborn baby correctly.

2 August 2010 - Dushanbe, Tajikistan – Promoting successful breastfeeding practices is the aim of a major campaign organised by maternity facilities and breastfeeding advocates across Tajikistan to celebrate the 10 Days of Breastfeeding from 1-10 August 2010. The Ministry of Health-led campaign, supported by UNICEF, coincides with the World Breastfeeding Week, marked throughout the world from 1-7 August. This year’s theme, Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps – the Baby Friendly Way, focuses on the crucial role of health facilities in promoting breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention for preventing deaths of children under 5. Studies show that about one-fifth of deaths in children under one month of age could be prevented if all newborns began breastfeeding during the first hour of life. If children continue to be breastfed up to two years, the health and development of millions of children would be largely improved.

“Tajikistan still has a very high infant mortality rate of 54 per 1,000 live births,” said Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative in Tajikistan. “The initiation of breastfeeding within a baby’s first hour of life and exclusive breastfeeding for six months can help prevent illness and save children’s lives.”

The 2009 National Nutrition Survey has shown that only 56 per cent of mothers in Tajikistan breastfed their baby within the first 30 minutes from delivery. And, according to the Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) 2005, only 25 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfed their infant during the first six months.

47 ‘baby-friendly’ hospitals and maternity units across Tajikistan set an example for mothers promoting successful breastfeeding practices.  A maternity facility can be designated ‘baby-friendly’ when it matches several criteria, including promoting exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months, and not accepting free or low-cost breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats.

“Out of the 47 baby-friendly certified hospitals in Tajikistan, 17 are located in Sughd oblast, four in Dushanbe, 20 in Khatlon oblast and six in Districts of Republican Subordination,” said Dr. Nusratullo Salimov, Minister of Health of Tajikistan. “68 per cent of all children born in Tajikistan are delivered in these hospitals and maternity units. Up to 98 per cent of babies born in these facilities are breastfed within 30 minutes after birth.”

Hongwei Gao added: “Making all maternity facilities in Tajikistan baby-friendly is one of the vital measures to save children’s lives in the country. In addition, all mothers should exclusively breastfeed their newborn babies up to 6 months and continue breastfeeding them up to 2 years of age.”

World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF and its partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and WHO. The aim is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development. Continued breastfeeding after six months, for up to two years of age or beyond, combined with safe and appropriate complementary feeding, is the optimal approach to child feeding.

For more information, please contact:

Ministry of Health of the Republic of Tajikistan:
Ms. Fatima Goibova, Press Officer
Tel.: +992 (44) 600 60 02 (office), +992 (918) 21 46 46 (mob.)

UNICEF in Tajikistan:
Mr. Alexander Sodiqov, Communication Officer
Tel.: +992 (918) 31 00 57



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