“Men are part of the problem during breastfeeding. A mother is breastfeeding, you also want something on the other side..." says Opendi.
The health ministry has cautioned against the growing culture of men demanding to suckle breastfeeding mothers, believing that the practice can help cure certain diseases, including erectile dysfunction and impotence.
The state minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi, while addressing Parliament about the launch of the World Breastfeeding Week on Thursday last week, said the practice of men suckling women's breasts was becoming a problem for some breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
"Men are part of the problem during breastfeeding. A mother is breastfeeding, you also want something on the other side, saying that it can cure HIV/AIDS, cancer, male dysfunction. It is a myth," Opendi said, attracting laughter from the House.
The minister also cautioned young girls against fearing to breastfeed their babies thinking they will lose the sharpness of their breasts. "As we speak of men who are sharp shooters, women are also talking of sharp breasts. There is competition among young mothers who want to remain with sharp breasts," she said.
The minister informed the House that the World Breast Feeding Week was commemorated during the first week of August, with specific aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its importance to both the mother and the child, increase breastfeeding rate, improve the health and the survival of babies around the world.
She said Uganda was a signatory to the Innocenti Declaration of 1990 that declared the World Breastfeeding Week to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. This commitment was re-affirmed at the 2012 World Health Assembly, that called upon member countries and all global actors to commit more actions, resources and to improve infant feeding practices.
"Breastfeeding is the best start of life, it provides nutrition for babies and protects them against diseases, including obesity, plus noncommunicable diseases in adulthood, such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, among others. It also improves the intelligence quotient of children. The practice of breastfeeding a child is inherently human," she said. This year, the World Breastfeeding Week will be themed: "Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life".
The ceremony will be held at Bulindi Primary School in Hoima district, on Wednesday next week. The health ministry recommends early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six completed months and the introduction of complementary foods after six months while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.