The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has urged mothers to give their babies the best start in life by breastfeeding them as long necessary, indicating that breast milk provides children with the right nutrition and protection needed, especially in the early stages of their life.
Launching this year’s World Breastfeeding Week celebration in Takoradi last week on the theme: “sustaining breastfeeding together,” Rebecca Akufo-Addo said that it was important for mothers to know that breastfeeding was a God-given process, specifically designed to enhance a baby’s growth and development and no substitute was comparable.
She underscored that “the health benefits of breastfeeding don’t just last during infancy, but are sustained throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood as well.”
Mrs. Akufo-Addo noted that despite the compelling research in favour of breastfeeding, a report by Ghana Health Service indicates that only 52 percent of Ghanaian mothers exclusively breastfeed their children suggesting “that a large number of Ghanaian babies are deprived of the major nutritional, health and psychological benefits of breastfeeding.”
The First Lady called for “strong partnership made up of government, health partners, health practitioners, communities, non-governmental organisations, media and civil society to advocate and help create utmost protective and supportive environment exclusively for breastfeeding” in order to achieve at least a goal of 80 percent of all babies born in Ghana exclusively breastfed by the year 2021.
She also proposed a five-point action plan which she noted will help achieve this goal by 2021.
This, according to her, includes improving support systems and creating conducive environments for women to breast feed in their workplaces, markets, homes, communities and at social gatherings; enforcing laws on marketing of Breast Milk substitutes to end persistent violations of this law and protect exclusive breastfeeding; extend the period of maternity leave to minimum of 14 weeks as stipulated by International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Maternity Protection Convention, 2000; develop breastfeeding promotional messages and undertake communication campaigns to improve knowledge about benefits and address negative perceptions about breastfeeding; and come together as a nation and put our collective resources together to support breastfeeding of babies.
She also encouraged all well-meaning individual and institutions to be advocates of breastfeeding to “make sure that every child born in Ghana will be given a chance to survive, grow and develop into a healthy and strong citizen.”
Story: Freeman Koryekpor Awlesu