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Freetown, August 8 (SLENA) – Sierra Leone has joined other countries in the world to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week on the theme: “Understanding the Past – Planning the Future”, with series of community sensitization meetings on the importance of breastfeeding.
Addressing the George Brook Community at the Dwazack Community Centre in Freetown, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Alhassan Seisay said government introduces the free health care to ensure that pregnant women received good health care so that they would not die when giving birth and after delivery, noting that 60 percent of people attending health facilities are pregnant women and suckling mothers.
Dr. Seisay expressed the need for mothers to breastfeed their babies one hour after delivery because of its nutritional value that makes the child grow healthy and strong from diseases.
He appealed to the entire Dwazack Community to practice early initiation of exclusive breastfeeding immediately after birth from 0-6 months, noting that breast milk is natural and better than imported baby powdered milk.
The Director of Reproductive and Child Health, Dr. Samuel Kargbo, disclosed that breastfeeding is not a new thing to anyone as they all came through that process during childhood.
He informed the gathering that breast milk is the best for babies for the first 6 months, noting that suckling children are easily prone to contract disease. Dr. Kargbo reiterated that breast milk is economical and prevent babies from a lot of sickness.
Dr. Samuel Kargbo encouraged those mothers who are using exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months to continue and those who are not breastfeeding to do so. He advised that to succeed the free health care, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should eat good food to make their children grow healthy and strong.
The Programme Manager, National Food and Nutrition Programme, Aminata Shamit Koroma, speaking on the theme, said the presence of the suckling mothers demonstrate their commitment for the well-being of their children in the country.
She said the theme is to review the past, the current experience and looks at the future on the breastfeeding issue.
Madam Koroma dilated on the successes and challenges of breastfeeding and responded to contributions from the Community members and chart the way forward.
She said, according to a survey conducted, 68 percent of mothers in the country are not breastfeeding their children for the first six (6) months, with 32 percent breastfeeding their babies, which she described as very low.
The Councillor for Ward 384, Dwazack, Shaka Lamin Dumbuya said Dwazack is the first port of call for the breastfeeding week which is commendable.
Councillor Dumbuya commended the Food and Nutrition Programme for the good initiative, and appealed for policies against the sale of powdered baby milk to suckling mothers as well as dangerous drugs and tobacco.
The ceremony was graced by the participation and support from WHO, UNICEF, Thinking Pink Breast Cancer Foundation, Helen Keller International and other partners.
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