MONROVIA-World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year in August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is considered the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need.
The World Health Organization has recommended exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old.
Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
This year in Liberia , the Ministry of Health support from UNICEF, World Health, United Nations and WaterAid Liberia under the Irish Aid Nutrition Program is encouraging people to “Support mums to breastfeed anytime, anywhere,” as all of society has a role to play in making our communities more breastfeeding-friendly.
In a live radio talk show, the Coordinator of Maternal Infant and Young Child Feeding at the Ministry of Health, Regina Moore disclosed that Only 61 per cent of new born babies are introduced to breast milk with in the first 1 hour of birth and only 55 per cent of infant are exclusively breastfed in Liberia.
“This means that over 40 per cent of new born babies are not being initiated to breastfeeding within the first 1 hour of birth and about 50 per cent infants are not being exclusively breastfed”. Moore said.
The coordinator revealed that most mothers are not doing appropriate breastfeeding according to these statistics of the Liberian demographic health survey.
Also making remarks on the radio talk show, the WASH Manager of SHALOM, Lusu Gibson asserted that the breastfeeding boosts brain development and protects babies against life-threatening illnesses.
Mrs. Gibson said it provides all the nutrients that the babies need to grow healthy, strong and clever.
The World Health Organizations and UNICEF have recommended that new born babies should be introduced to breastfeeding within the first 1 hour after delivery, continued exclusively without any other food or drink, not even water for the first 6 months and then continued, with safe and adequate complementary foods, up to 2 years or beyond.
UNICEF and WHO are working with the Ministry of Health in implementing the baby-friendly hospital initiative (BFHI), where early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding are promoted and is institutionalized for all institutional deliveries.
In addition, UNICEF is also supporting the Ministry of Health on wide-scale awareness raising to promote early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding across Liberia, especially through the mass media campaigns.