ISLAMABAD: Experts at a seminar on Wednesday revealed that in Pakistan, 72 infants die out of 1000 live births every year. But out of these 72 deaths, 53 are those who die before reaching the age of one month due to diarrhoea, pneumonia, respiratory infections and malnutrition.
A major source of these diseases is lack of exclusive breastfeeding, use of unhygienic bottles, formula milk and teats. These infants can be saved if they are protected through natural protection of mother’s milk without use of any other food item like gutti, honey or water for the first six months, they said.
The National Alliance demanded of the Ministry of Health to ensure early implementation of ‘Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002’. The participants regretted that the rules and regulations of protection of Breastfeeding and Young Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002 were notified in 2009 but had yet to be disseminated at a larger level.
Dr Rafeh, health expert, said that according to research, if mothers breastfeed children within the first hour of their life, 22 percent of infant deaths can be prevented.
This protects the baby from various diseases, develops bond between mother and child, protects mother from breast cancer and is a source of natural birth spacing.
Global Breastfeeding Week (GBWk) is celebrated every year from August 1 to 7 in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The speakers said that unfortunately, breastfeeding practice among mothers in Pakistan is still alarmingly low as reported at the end of the year 2009. Exclusive breastfeeding, as well as the duration for which a child is breastfed, is lowest in Pakistan, compared to our neighbouring South Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The National Alliance includes Nutrition Wing, Ministry of Health, Govt. of Pakistan, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, MI, TheNetwork for Consumer Protection, SPARC, NRSP, Plan-Pakistan, FPAP, SUNGI Development Foundation, BINA, PAIMAN, PIEDAR, Blue Veins, Save the Children UK, Save the Children US, Islamabad Medical and Dental College, APNA SEHAT, BEHBUD Association of Pakistan, Rasti Pakistan, Batool Welfare Foundation and Sultana Foundation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2010.