Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (GS) has identified a clear need for optimal infant feeding practices in reducing malnutrition as well as poverty. Based on a human rights approach, they are calling for the development of comprehensive national policies on infant and young child feeding.
Kinondoni Kambangwa dispensary was venue for the 20th anniversary of the world breastfeeding week held annually beginning August first. At the event, held over the weekend, Tanzanians and the world at large were reminded of the values of breastfeeding.
Speaking on behalf of the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC) Said Meck Sadiki, the Dar es Salaam Regional Medical Officer Dr Judith Kahama highlighted this year’s themed, ‘We should know where we came from, we should plan where we are going’. The RC said the government is making initiatives to control the use of alternative milk (formula) as implemented the International regulations to control the sale and distribution of alternative foods for infants. Formula is gaining popularity with mothers across the world who believes it save time allowing them to meet other needs.
Happy Arobogast a resident of Mwananyamala in Kinondoni is an example, she doesn’t believe in exclusive breastfeeding.
“At the beginning, my baby was crying often, but last month I chose to feed her with both formula and breast milk, she no longer cries as she used to…” the mother believes that using formula to supplement breast milk, in her words, has given her more time to run my businesses.”
Only 32.6 % of 136.7 million babies born worldwide are breastfed exclusively in the first six months, this according to UNICEF's State of the World's Children Report 2011.
This is so despite the fact that breastfeeding is the best known way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends after the exclusive six months, breastfeeding should continue with the addition of nutritious and indigenous complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
To achieve these global standards, the nation’s health workers are to be empowered to provide effective feeding counselling, and their services be extended into the community by trained counsellors.
Tanzania was encouraged during the reading of the commissioner’s speech to review progress in national implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk substitutes, and consider new legislation or additional measures to protect families from adverse and even sometimes misleading commercial influences.
Government was also urged to enact imaginative legislation that will protect the breastfeeding rights of working women and to also establish the means for its enforcement in accordance with international labour standards.
Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are both crucial for life-long health and well-being. In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life.
Malnutrition is responsible, directly or indirectly for about one third of deaths among children under five. Well above two thirds of these deaths, often associated with inappropriate feeding practices, occur during the first year of life.