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Support mothers to breastfeed exclusively

By Admin

Added 3rd August 2018 09:14 PM

Breastfeeding enhances the life of the child and helps them to bond with the mother.

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Breastfeeding enhances the life of the child and helps them to bond with the mother.

BREASTFEEDING

By Esther Nasikye

A few months ago, the media world over was awash with pictures and the smallest updates about the Prince born in England to Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

My thinking is that other than the fact that Prince George Alexandar Louis is born to a popular and wealthy royal family in England, he is more or less like any other baby born in any part of the world and Uganda for that matter.

When a baby is born, it is a time of celebration.

I wondered if Prince George was born in a village in Uganda, would he survive to celebrate his fifth birthday? According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), 2011, one in every 11 children in Uganda does not survive past the age of five.

Most of these children die of preventable diseases like Pneumonia, Malaria, diahorrea, and post natal complications.

How can we ensure children survive the age of five? The advice Kate Middleton will receive from any medical practitioner is the same advise a mother in Oyam or Budibugyo should receive.

World over, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their child within the first hour of birth. Uganda has one of the highest deaths of newborns in the world with almost 39,000 newborns dying every day according to the UDHS, 2011.

Breastfeeding enhances the life of the child and helps them to bond with the mother.

Many mothers especially the working class are substituting breast feeding with bottle feeding yet exclusive breastfeeding will yield better results than the most expensive baby formulae can deliver.

In 2013, the national theme for the World Breast Feeding Week that was marked from August 1-7, was “enhancing community support for optimal breast feeding for a healthy, well-nourished and HIV free generation.”

I would like to emphasize the male involvement in raising healthy children. If fathers provide a conducive atmosphere and encourage their wives to breast feed, then a healthy nation is not a far off dream.

Community Support

Simplistic, it may sound, but mothers need a lot of support if they are to breastfeed effectively. There should be support care groups in the community to help respond to parent’s questions about breastfeeding practices.

These may be experienced mothers who can support young mothers and respond to some questions; this also includes trained health care personnel to support mothers to breast feed better.

This will go a long way in increasing the current number of mothers who are breastfeeding in the community and therefore improve the well being of children.

The Village Health Teams need to support expectant and lactating mothers to prepare for and practice optimal breast feeding so that their babies can be healthy.

As the government recruits more health workers, we must remember that health is made at home and only repaired in the hospitals.

I am sure that Prince George will celebrate his fifth birthday but so should every child in Uganda.

World Vision currently implements low cost yet high impact interventions like the Positive Deviance Hearth to prevent malnutrition among children and pregnant mothers and rehabilitate affected

children. The organisation also is implementing the Child Health Now Campaign with a focus on improving nutrition and reducing incidence on malaria among under-fives. The campaign covers about 20 districts.

Enhancing community support for mothers to practice optimal breastfeeding

Uganda has one of the highest deaths of newborns in the world with almost 40,000 newborns dying every year according to the UDHS 2011. 

While the specific deaths due to delayed breastfeeding and use of alternative feeds for newborns is not known evidence shows this to be a major contributor to new born deaths.

According to the UDHS 2011, 35% of mothers in Uganda are substituting breast milk with alternatives such as baby milk formula, cow's milk, gripe water in urban areas and plain water, glucose fluids, and black tea in semi and rural areas.

It is estimated that exclusive breastfeeding in accordance with the World Health Organisation recommendations would save many children's lives each year in Uganda and yet prompt and exclusive breastfeeding practices continue to reduce among the affluent and the poor alike.

The World Health Organization recommends that newborns are initiated on exclusive breastfeeding immediately or within the first hour after birth (WHO, 2010).

Anecdotal evidence of World Vision communities of operation indicate that there is low general public awareness of the importance of immediate onset of breast feeding fueled by low antenatal visits, home births, and virtually almost non existence post birth visits and care at most health facilities.

This situation is also exacerbated by the physical distance between newborns wards and those of new mothers in some places which leads to the separation of mother and baby immediately after birth. This makes immediate initiation of breast feeding impossible.

Breast feeding week

World Vision took advantage of the Breast Feeding week to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding and improved nutrition in the country and engaged leaders for action to improve child health, specifically ending malnutrition.

The global theme for the World Breast Feeding Week 2013 was “Breast feeding support: Close to mothers” while the national theme was “Enhancing community support for mothers to practice optimal breastfeeding towards a healthy, well nourished and HIV free generation.” 

In relation to this theme, several activities will be conducted in  different regions in the country including Eastern region Tororo District; Northern Uganda – Lira and Kitgum District; Western Uganda – Kibale District.

This House supports breastfeeding

Children need to be equipped with the right information in order for them to make meaningful decisions as future leaders.

As a child focused organization, participation of children in all activities remains key to World Vision Uganda. During activities to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2013 children were engaged through interschool debates.

In Tororo the school debates were between Nyamalogo and Segere Primary Schools in Iyolwa and Kirewa ADPs respectively.

The motion for the debate was “This house supports breastfeeding”. Children came up with brilliant ideas towards the support of breastfeeding.

“Breast milk remains the only source of colostrums which a child needs for strong immunity” Lydia from Segere Primary School explained.

Segere Primary School was the overall winner in Tororo and Lydia was selected as the best debater for the motion.


 

 

 

 

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