Benefits of breastfeeding: Neonatal care important for both mother and child, say experts

NGOs gather medical practitioners to convey message to families.

Our Correspondent August 07, 2014


Health workers must let people know about the importance of breastfeeding among communities as it is not only important for new born babies but their mothers as well.

The speakers at a seminar on the ‘Status of Breastfeeding’ made this request on Thursday. The seminar was jointly organised by the Save the Children and Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) programme at the MNCH office. It is very important for the supporting staff to understand the benefits of breastfeeding, urging them to convey the message to mothers and their families.

Female nurses of different hospitals of the city, including Civil hospital, Lyari General Hospital, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Government Hospital Liaquatabad, Sindh Government Hospital New Karachi, Sobhraj Meternity Home, Sir Taj Bano Meternity Home, Khadijatul Kubra Maternity Home and Gizri Maternity Home participated in the awareness session.

Prof Iqbal A Memon, the president of the Pakistan Paediatric Association, advised female staff to actively play their role. “Your role is very crucial,” he said. “You have to understand how to convince mothers who aren’t willing to breastfeed.”

Sindh nursing directorate’s assistant director Khairun Nisa gave a briefing on the causes of breast cancer among women. Breast cancer accounts for 31 per cent of cancers among women and 19 per cent of deaths among women are due to cancer, she said. “It is one of the most common reasons of death among women,” she added.

While sharing the data on the situation of breastfeeding in Pakistan, Iqbal Detho, the provincial advocacy and campaign manager for Save the Children, said that 7.6 million children under five years died in 2010 across the globe. Most deaths were associated with inappropriate breastfeeding practices, he said.

“Twenty-two per cent of newborn deaths could be prevented if breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour after birth,” he shared. “And 16 per cent of such deaths can be prevented if breastfeeding is started in the first 24 hours.” He shared that infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die of diarrhoea as compared to those who are breastfed exclusively.

There is a powerful private health sector in the country which is largely unregulated and operates for profit and is mostly influenced by the formula milk industry, shared Detho. Working mothers find it difficult to continue breastfeeding due to a lack of supportive measures at workplaces and a lack of employers support towards breastfeeding and inflexibility in duty hours. “This leads to discontinuation of breastfeeding among working mothers in Pakistan,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2014.


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