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Health News of Thursday, 30 August 2012

Source: Cameroon Tribune

Healthy Breastfeeding Fights Infant Mortality

Women have been called upon to breastfeed their children as medically advised. The call was made in Douala, August 28, by Public Health officials during activities to mark the World Breastfeeding Week, which runs from August 24 to 30.

Good breastfeeding, according to Public Health Delegate for the Littoral, Dr. Yamba Beyas Martin, must last throughout the first six months without interspersing with food or water, and should begin 30 minutes after birth. Between six and 11 months food and water can be introduced progressively. Breastfeeding can be stopped at the eleventh month. The practice of breastfeeding as advised may go a long way to reduce infant mortality, whose current rate in Cameroon is 122 babies out of 1,000.

The Public Health official said poor breastfeeding attributed to the alarming death rate stems from popular misconception among women that the practice weakens the breast. A woman who participated at the awareness-raising meeting at the Regional Delegation of Public Health in Bonanjo said while she would want to practice the safe breastfeeding as advised, as one who is working the practice seems impossible. After three months of maternity leave, I have to go resume work while the baby stays back at home where she has to be fed with artificial milk or some kind of food before the six months.

In spite of the challenges Dr. Yamba Beyas Martin advised, "Medically advised breastfeeding protects the breast and is necessary for the healthy development of the child."

In Cameroon today, only two out of five women are said to feed their babies exclusively with breast milk during the first six months after birth. The result, according to Unicef, is rise in morbidity and mortality among babies. Going by the Unicef statistics, one baby out of the three babies who die is due to poor breastfeeding. Most of the causes are influenced by publicity of substitutes like artificial milk; secondly, the women are inadequately informed of the protection and health importance of breastfeeding which is a sufficient beckon to development agents of the necessity to support government sensitization effort.