National Breastfeeding Week was launched in Koforidu as a part of the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana. The Theme is “Understanding the Past, Planning, the Future, Celebrating 10 years of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding; Reviving Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative In Ghana.”
Research has shown that children who were not exclusively breastfed the first six months of life had increased risk of asthma, allergy, acute respiratory infections, nutrient deficiencies, cancers, obesity, and diarrhea and reduced cognitive development.
This campaign is also aiming at educating parents in the importance of not giving a baby water for the six months since in the past babies in this culture were traditionally given all types of drinks as infants including water, cod liver oil, gripe water and other liquids which is detrimental to their development and health.
The few mothers who attempt to practice exclusive breastfeeding in Ghana often find the social support system challenging as their mothers, grandmothers and in-laws and even pharmacy shops have sabotaged their efforts by encouraging them to supplement their babies with cod liver oil and gripe water to boost their babies’ systems.
Dr Iyabode Olusanmi, the country representative of UNICEF, who performed the launching, said the reduction in the exclusive breastfeeding meant that thousands of children had a lesser chance of surviving childhood just because they were not breast-fed early and exclusively, several children were being exposed to the risk of diarrhea and other infections and malnutrition and stunting growth would continue to plague children.
She called on the GHS to focus their attention on achieving the set goals for exclusive breastfeeding in the communities to reach mothers, fathers and husbands, older women, mothers-in-law and all those who played critical roles in influencing feeding practices in young families.
The World Breastfeeding Week campaign was launched globally about 20 years ago to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing infant mortality.