Nutrition Support Program (NSP) Govt. of Sindh in collaboration with UNICEF organized an Advocacy Seminar on ‘Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding’ on 8th August 2018 at a local hotel in Karachi aimed to raise awareness on the importance of breastfeeding.
Dr. Ismail Memon, Program Manager, Nutrition Support Program (NSP) in his welcome address appraised the government departments, UNICEF and nutrition partners on the successful organization of event. He added that this year’s celebration emphasizes about the importance of global breast feeding as foundation of life, a natural and nurturing start to life for infants and mothers. The whole week dedicated to breastfeeding provide all of us an opportunity to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and to improve children’s health and wellbeing. According to Govt. of Sindh statistics (MICS survey, 2014), only 21 percent children are breast fed with in first hour of birth. An estimated 29 percent children are exclusively breast fed for first six month, while dietary diversity is as low as 14 percent.
He further said that breastfeeding is the universal solution and it tends to save millions of lives without any cost. The right nutrition during the 1,000 days between a mother’s pregnancy and the child’s second birthday can save lives and enable children to reach their full potential. Suboptimal breastfeeding, lack of dietary diversity and the increase use of formula milk are seriously undermining the nutrition status of children during this critical timeframe. He briefed participants about nutrition interventions in Sindh lead by Government of Sindh like Accelerated Action Plan with multi-sectoral nutrition sensitive and specific interventions and Nutrition Specific PC1 implemented in 9 districts, stunting reduction program by UNICEF, WFP, WHO, EU, USAID, PPHI.
Dr. Khalid Shafi, Associate Professor Pediatrics & Secretary General, Pakistan Pediatric Association (Sindh Chapter) highlighted the importance of breastfeeding. He said that breastfeeding provide protection against host of diseases. A breastfed child is less likely to be obese and develop diabetes or asthma in later life. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of cancer among mothers. Diarrhea, Pneumonia and malnutrition are major consequences of not breastfeeding the child. He emphasized on the need to bring all stakeholders to a platform for the protection, promotion of breastfeeding.
Prof. Dr. Sadiah Ahsan Pal, Vice President, Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists of Pakistan highlighting the challenges of breastfeeding being faced by mother in form of social stigma, the enabling environment for working women, social support and the myths & misconceptions about early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding. She stressed upon the trainings of healthcare providers on lactation management, exclusive breastfeeding for six month is also the lactation Amenorrhea (LAM) method for contraception.
Dr. Badar Munir, WHO Sub-Office Sindh spoke on ‘Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative’. Sharing the summary of recent report of WHO and UNICEF, he informed that breastfeeding gives best possible support to the babies of their life. The risk of infection and mortality rate increases with the passage of time of breastfeeding initiation. Globally, Pakistan is below 40% on early initiation of breastfeeding. He also talked about the recently issued WHO and UNICEF Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative 10 steps for successful breastfeeding. The steps summarize a package of policies and procedures that facilities providing maternity and newborn services should implement to support breastfeeding and community need to be increased.
Dr. Sahib Jan Badar, Program Coordinator, Accelerated Action Plan for reduction of Malnutrition & Stunting, Sindh sharing her comments on the occasion stressed on the need to implement the law about marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Prof. Dr. Dure Samin Akram Ex-President, PPA elaborated about the legislation passed by the Government of Sindh. She said that “The Sindh Protection and Promotion of BreastFeeding and Child Nutrition Act, 2013” is to ensure safe and adequate nutrition for infants and young children by promoting and protecting breast-feeding and by regulating the marketing and promotion of designated products including breast milk substitutes and of feeding bottles, valves for feeding bottles, nipple shields, teats and pacifiers. She also elaborated about the scorecard from WHO and UNICEF which presents a daunting reality. Only nine countries in the world meet at least five of the seven recommended standards for supporting breastfeeding. This includes access to trained counselors, adequate maternity benefits, workplace time and space to breastfeed or express milk, and regulation of the formula and baby food industries. She discussed the developments made by Sindh Infant Feeding Board in review of law in accordance with the World Health Assembly recommendations 2016 (A69/7) and development of rules.
Dr. Zahoor Baloch, Project Director, EPI Sindh during sharing his views about the occasion urged for promotion and protection of breastfeeding practice in the country to protect the health of mother and child. To achieve the target, there is need to work like one team in order to promote and encourage breastfeeding. He acknowledged the efforts of all the partners for successful celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.
Dr. Umar Khan, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF in his remarks said that breastfeeding is an important public health interventions globally. UNICEF is working closely with Nutrition Support Program, Department of Health, Pakistan Pediatric Association and Society of Obstetricians & Gynecologists and all other stakeholders for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding. On behalf of UNICEF, he assured continuous support in taking forward the agenda of improving the life of women and children in Sindh.
Dr. Yasir, Nutrition Officer World Food Programme (WFP) appreciated the firm commitment of stakeholders in promoting breast feeding. He said that we would strengthen the links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks specially Sindh Lady Health Worker Program that can protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. WFP is closely working with NSP and Sindh Lady Health Worker program under several nutrition interventions to promote best nutrition practices at communal level including breast feeding.
In the end, Dr. Mazhar Iqbal, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Sindh offered vote of thanks.