There are certain processes that nature intended for humans for the sake of a child’s healthy development. One of them is the beautiful action of a mother breastfeeding her child, not only for the purpose of providing nourishment to an infant, but because of the cognitive and developmental implications it has. Unfortunately, the statistic that only 37.1 per cent of infants less than six months old are breastfed in Pakistan highlights a dire need to begin a nationwide breastfeeding campaign.
The recent Sindh Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Act of 2013 has been a positive development. However, implementation is needed to ensure that baby formula companies are not feeding or bribing the minds of gynaecologists to promote their products. While it is important to give new mothers alternative options in case of birthing complications, breastfeeding should be advised to all new parents as well as other stakeholders, such as grandparents. It would take only an educational campaign using mass media to disseminate the information. For a country teeming with births every day and with a recent annual growth of 1.7 per cent in 2012, according to data from the World Bank, this is a critical requirement. The natural act of breastfeeding is important for the mother-child relationship as well as for the development of the child into a healthily attached human being. While our scientific research departments may not be as well endowed to make discoveries for the benefit of human wellbeing, our provincial health departments certainly need to keep pace with the healthcare demands of a growing population. There is a dearth of education for both men and women when it comes to human health and safety. Our masses should not rely on physicians to give them basic knowledge about health but instead must be equipped with basic information even before visiting a doctor through a nationwide, long-term health education campaign focusing on maternal and neonatal health.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2014.
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