THE government has said that exclusive breastfeeding rate in the country has increased from 58 percent recorded in 2018 to 64 percent in 2022, calling upon mothers to breastfeed their children properly to attain children’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Deputy Minister for Health, Dr Godwin Mollel revealed the encouraging development on Wednesday during the launch of the National Breastfeeding Week which in Dar es Salaam.
He also said that statistics show that children who are breastfed within one hour after being born has also increased from 53.5 per cent in 2018 to 70 recorded last year.
“It is obvious that this success story has been contributed by the commemoration of the Breastfeeding Week which is held annually,” he said.
“Nutrition is critical within 1000 days after a mother conceives to two years after baby is born. This is allows a child to have smooth physical and mental health development,” he said.
Adding; “Exclusive breastfeeding is an essential for cheapest early children development by using mother’s milk only that determines country’s future economic productivity and society prosperity” he said.
He reminded mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children during the initial six months of their life and later on, the exercise should continue in addition with a balanced diet for a total timeframe of two years.
Dr Mollel said inappropriate breastfeeding poses devastating impact to an entire child’s development as they end up stunting physically and mentally and hence denies the country from getting productive and innovative human capital.
However, he attributed the good progress statistically in child breastfeeding in the country to high government commitment among others through the National Breastfeeding Week which since its commencement in 1992 has been raising awareness for parents and citizens on the importance of breastfeeding.
Dr Mollel said the Breastfeeding Week which is carried out with specific themes every year like “Women, Work and Breastfeeding” in 1993 has contributed to the formation of Employment and Labour Relations Act of 2004 which integrates breastfeeding with work in the country.
This year’s Breasting Week is themed “Support breastfeeding: Enable parents to take care of their children and to work every day” which targets on ensuring all women in the formal and informal sector are provided with favorable environment to breastfeed their children without denying them chance to continue with their jobs.
Nevertheless, Dr Mollel mentioned low breastfeeding awareness of some employers, employees and the society at large as a setback for the country to achieve 100 per cent child appropriate breastfeeding urging for concerted efforts from all health stakeholders to provide understanding on the topic through education.
Additionally, he urged employers across the country to set special rooms for breastfeeding at the workplace to enable mothers perform their work and parental responsibility.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 820,000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under five year, if children counting from zero to 23 months were optimally breastfed.
Additionally, the WHO observes that undernutrition is a factor estimated to 45 per cent child deaths globally per a year.
The Breastfeeding Week is observed globally annually from August 1st to 7th from which world nations including Tanzania join hands in promoting the importance of breastfeeding to newborns while further defending women rights to breastfeed anytime and anywhere.