Dr. Priscilla Wobil, a Health Specialist, at the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has said that breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child’s health, but also the foundation for a country’s development.
She said this when she disseminated Ghana’s context of this year’s Lancet Breastfeeding Series at a technical seminar on breast feeding held in Accra on Wednesday, as part of activities to mark this year’s world breastfeeding week celebration.
The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal; one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals.
The 2016 Lancet Breastfeeding Series, however, indicated that increasing the rates of breastfeeding worldwide was a fundamental driver in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
According to the journal, breastfeeding plays a significant role in improving nutrition, education, and maternal and child health and survival.
Dr. Wobil said it was about time elderly women, mothers and fathers and communities protect, promote and support breastfeeding to make it visible and attractive to present generation.
“Rapid progress in exclusive breast feeding is possible, if more countries would invest in the policies and programs that support women’s breastfeeding decision,” she said.
Dr. Wobil stated that the Lancet series indicated that scaling up breastfeeding universally will substantially contribute to the attainment of breastfeeding for a better Ghana.
The Deputy Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Gloria Quansah Asare, said breastfeeding had substantial benefits for women and children in high and low-income countries alike, and the evidence now is stronger than ever.
She encouraged mothers to practice early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth to help reduce neonatal mortality.
“Exclusive breastfeeding prevents childhood mortality and morbidities, and certain non-communicable diseases while prolonged breastfeeding duration increases intelligence resulting in higher educational attainments and higher incomes,” Dr. Asare said.
She said the health and economic benefits of breastfeeding are huge and increased breastfeeding rates could save hundreds of thousands of lives and add hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy each year.
Dr. Asare said early initiation of breast feeding reduced neonatal mortality by 44 per cent, avoid half diarrhea episodes, reduce 57 per cent of admissions for respiratory infections, increase intelligence of a child and enable them attain higher educational attainments and incomes
She said breastfeeding also benefits mother as it protects them against breast & ovarian cancers and protects then against type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity later in life.
By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey