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Breastfeeding Week Celebration in Guinea: mommy’s milk is the safest

© UNICEF/Guinee/2008/Baro
A guinean baby taking benefits from breasfeeding.

Conakry, Guinea, 1 August 2009 - In Guinea, nutrition is becoming an issue for the past few years because of very difficult economic situation, price of rice and other first necessities have become unbearable for a very poor population.

After the social crisis of 2007, UNICEF, WHO, HKI, Terre des Hommes and other partners decided to do a survey on children’s nutritional status.

The results showed hight risk for children. UNICEF, with ECHO funding supported the Ministry of Health in producing a national Protocole on Nutrition that would guide all interventions regarding malnutrition.

Meeting the challenge of exclusive breastfeeding
A group of older generation midwives (AFPAMNIG) very active in the actions for exclusive breasfeeding are using their personal experiences to train younger health agents and talk to groups of women about the importance of breasfeeding.

They are part of UNICEF’s very good partner’s in this fight.

At national level, 77 % of children under 5 have some type of malnutrition, 23% suffer from mild anemia, 47 %medium level and 7 % severe type.

The situation is worse in rural (78 %) than urban (73 %).The situation is worse in rural (78 %) than urban (73 %).

At national level, 53 % of women suffer from anemia, and the situation is worse in rural (55 %) areas than in urban (49 %).

In Guinea, 40% of mothers give breast within the first hour of giving birth, 74% within the first 24 hours, 27% practice exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, almost all women breastfeed but they do not respect the exclusivity of the practice.

Mother friendly clubs in 20 preefectures
Mariama Sire Dieng ( a 33 years okd mother of 5) and Mhaha Mara ( a 16 years old mother of one) were all recruted by this NGO to be members of the "Mothers' club".

"Before I met the ladies, I used to give artificial milk starting the first week and my kids were always sick. For my over 3 kids and Souleymane here I respected all the good advice I was given and thank God, my children are all healthy and they look good.Now I have become a member of the club and I give advice to other women of the community" says Mariama Siré Dieng.

For Mhawa Mara, who is only 16 years old and a mother of a 6 months old beautiful André "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."

UNICEF Response
For the past few years, UNICEF and health ministry have been working on setting up mother friendly clubs in 20 preefectures, making sure they give proper advice to the community about breasfeeding.

That activity will be replicated to the entire country by the ministry if the funds were available  for a scaling up of the project.

For the past two years, more than 3000 aprons, 10 0000 posters, 10 TV spots in 5 languages with bresfeeding messages were produced and diffused to community agents within the country as part of the implementation of the communication plan for exclusive breasfeeding in progress.

All rural radios, 10 private radios and national television were all part of the different campaigns organized each year in french and local languages thouhut the entire country.

By Fatoumata Thiam Diallo




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