From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
Sierra Leone Celebrates World Breast Feeding Week
By Augustine Samba
Aug 2, 2010, 13:12

In a bid to reduce infant and maternal morbidity and mortality rates, Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on Sunday 1st August joined other partners the world over to celebrate this year’s week long World Breast Feeding week. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Renewed Friendly Way’ aimed at improving breast feeding rate through renewed action by health care providers and communities. The theme also aims at making breast feeding the easy choice for mothers as well as according them enjoy full access to health care systems.

In a pre celebration press briefing held at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Youyi Building in Freetown on Friday 29th July 2010, the deputy minister, Hon. Mohamed D Koroma informed that government was highly committed to the actualization of the Beast Feeding week since it formed an integral component of the ongoing free health care initiative in the country.

The Chief Medical Officer in the health ministry, Dr. Alhassan Siesay informed press men that the week-long programme will involve a nationwide campaign on the importance of breast feeding by lactating mothers. He said the campaign will be done with the participatory involvement of each and every hospital and health centre throughout the country. "Breast feeding is important to the growth and wellbeing of infants as it is safe and adequate for the born," he disclosed.

In her contribution Food and Nutrition Programme Manager in the Ministry of Health, Madam Aminata Shamit Koroma said breast feeding was one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. According to her exclusive breast feeding during the first 6 months of life contributes immensely to avoiding mortality of millions of children each year. "Breast feeding gives the required nutrition to the child, in addition to enhancing its healthy growth and development," she further informed. She however, lamented over the sad fact that even though 95% of mothers do breast feed their babies from birth, only about 11% of all infants from birth to 6 months are exclusively breast fed in Sierra Leone.

WHO representative, Dr. Francis Nylander said in 2002 WHO/UNICEF launched the global strategy for infant and young child feeding which calls upon all governments and other actors in the health sector to ensure the protection, promotion and support of exclusive breast feeding of children for 6 months, and a continual breast feeding process up to two years of age and beyond. According to him, it is even recommended that mothers continue to breastfeed their babies until the next pregnancy. In conclusion, he reiterated the importance of bread feeding as part of the positive indicators of the Millennium Development Goals, and said as partners, Sierra Leone they will continue to give support to all stakeholders who are ready to implement the campaign.



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