DOH leads world breastfeeding week

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The DOH joins the international community in the observance of the 19th World Breastfeeding Week

The Department of Health (DOH), along with some 73 countries worldwide, joins the international community in the observance of the 19th World Breastfeeding Week with the theme, “Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps. The Baby-Friendly Way”.

According to Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, breastfeeding improves maternal and child health, and contributes to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal number 4 and 5 which is the reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health, respectively.

Study shows that the initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life will lead to successful exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Continued breastfeeding should continue through the second year and beyond, with addition of safe, adequate, and appropriate complimentary foods.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recently noted that the marked reduction in child mortality from 13 million deaths globally in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008 can be partly attributed to the adoption of basic health interventions like early and exclusive breastfeeding.

Globally, the Philippines is one of 33 countries that have completed the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative. There are some 40 countries undergoing training towards completing the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative.

Presently, about 28% of all maternity facilities in the world have implemented the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. This has contributed to an encouraging increase in breastfeeding rates despite aggressive commercial promotion of infant formula and baby bottles.

However, the 28% global compliance is a far cry from the 1990 Innocenti Declaration goal that by 1995 all maternity facilities shall be practicing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and shall promote and support breastfeeding practices in their respective countries.

The challenge for us is so great considering the resources are scarce. The “Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act 7600” was revised and expanded to RA 10028 or known as “Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009”. This law addresses the issue of discontinuation of breastfeeding because women workers have to return to their work. This will also fill-up the gap of some mothers, who for some reason, will not be able to breastfeed their babies for awhile by encouraging hospitals to put up milk banks. Breastfeeding will also be integrated in the academe from elementary to college, especially for medical and allied courses.

While all those things are in process, the DOH have to make sure that hospitals, birthing homes/lying-in/maternity clinics and the likes practices Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital Initiatives (MBFHI).

“Let us vigorously promote breastfeeding for a healthier citizenry,” Ona concluded.