Takoradi, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady, has said it is worrying that Ghanaian children continue to lose out on the many benefits that exclusive breastfeeding provides.
She said, currently, only 52 per cent of Ghanaian mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding and this deprives many babies the major nutritional, health and psychological benefits of breastfeeding.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said this at the National launch of the World breastfeeding week at Takoradi in the Western Region.
The event was held under the theme: Sustaining breastfeeding together.
She said breastfeeding is a God-given process which ensures that fresh babies and toddlers receive the right nutrition from birth.
“This is why I recently launched my initiative; reducing malaria and malnutrition in priority populations to reduce the high rates of severe under-nutrition and the high incidence of malaria which has negative consequences on health and survival of children under five.
Mrs Akufo Addo said studies on the value of breastfeeding for mothers and babies was very compelling and called for a concerted action to help achieve the 80 per cent target by 2021 on exclusive breastfeeding.
The First Lady said there is the need to mobilize and engage with a wide range of actors to promote and support the breastfeeding campaign.
She said there is the need to improve the current support systems and create a conducive environment for women to breastfeed in workplaces and strengthen agencies to curtail the marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said resources must be harnessed to develop messages and undertake communication campaigns and employers must abide by the maternity leave regulations as specified under the International Labour Organization Maternity Protection Convention.
The First Lady said inter-agency collaboration and coordination, resource mobilization, advocacy and monitoring of related policies and actions is critical in order to ensure that every child born in Ghana survived.
Mrs Akufo Addo expressed gratitude for the commitment of many health sector players, development partners and other stakeholders in prioritizing breastfeeding promotions.
Ms Rushnan Murtaza, UNICEF Country Representative, said the UN sees breast feeding as a critical and key investment as well as the best foundation countries could make in human resource development.
She said there is the need for closer collaboration to invest and promote new ways and partnerships in support of breastfeeding adding, Breastfeeding is indeed the best.
Ms Murtaza said despite the drop in figures from 63 per cent in 2008 to 43 per cent in 2011; 2014 recorded a significant figure of 52 per cent and the Western Region had only 27 per cent of mothers engaging in exclusive breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is best not only for children, it also benefits mothers. Recent studies indicate that mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer and this is another incentive for women to sustain breastfeeding for a long period, the UNICEF Country Representative said.
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhene of Essikado traditional area, who chaired the national launch, said no man-made formula would serve as a better substitute for what God has offered as food for infants and new-born and urged women to ensure proper breastfeeding.
He said investing in formulas and natural milk substitute only increases the financial burden of families whilst compromising on the health of children under five.
The First lady later donated assorted diapers, dairy products and sanitary wears to the weighing section of the Kwesimintsim Hospital.
Source: Ghana News Agency