Only 37.7 per cent Pakistani mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding: WHO-UNICEF report

Only 37.7 per cent Pakistani mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding: WHO-UNICEF report

It said WHO along with all other relevant United Nations agencies and partners will continue providing technical support to the Government of Pakistan to ensure that all Rural Health Centers (RHCs) and hospitals, whether public or private, are converted into baby friendly health facilities across the country by 2030.

It statement said the trend of breastfeeding has shown an upward trend.

As per data from the Union health ministry, initial breastfeeding has almost doubled in the past decade - from 23.4% in 2005-06 to 41.6% in 2015-16. Breastfeeding can save hundreds of thousands of children by safeguarding them against several diseases.

"However, there is further scope of improving initial breastfeeding rates considering the high proportion of institutional deliveries in the country", it added.

Breastfeeding Week is observed in the first week of August to focus attention on the important aspect of promotion and support of breastfeeding. This year's theme is "Sustaining Breastfeeding".

Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, posed this question on UNICEF's website: "What if governments had a proven, cost-effective way to save babies' lives, reduce rates of malnutrition, support children's health, increase educational attainment and grow productivity?"

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The document recommends mothers should have the option to avail of co-sleeping beds or "bassinet attachments" in the hospital to allow for close contact with babies, as the first 24-48 hours is considered crucial for establishing early breastfeeding.

Twenty three states have started implementing various activities under MAA programme such as one day sensitization of health staffs, convergence meetings with line departments, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) training of staffs at health facilities, communication activities using mass media and mid-media etc.

Around 2.5 lakhs ASHAs and 40,000 health staffs have been sensitized for breastfeeding promotion strategies under the programme.

On the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, Mrs. Ezeogu said breastfed children have at least six times greater chances of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children; and the exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women.

"There are several breastfeeding issues which include early introduction of porridge and traditional herbs, inadequate complementary feeding, fontanel issues, and mothers thinking they do not produce enough breast milk; among others", a joint press release by Unicef and World Health Organization says.

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