Reports, shows half of babies in Tanzania are not exclusively breastfed in the first six months emphasising that babies who receive no breast milk at all are seven times more likely to die from infections than those who received at least some breast milk in their first six months of life.
Mbeya district acting development officer Epifania Shangali told the district’s steering committee for nutrition saying many people were still unaware of the exclusive health benefits of breastfeeding, as a result the department saw it better to embark on a special programme to educate Tasaf beneficiaries.
“The door to door education programme bore fruits as many women knew about better ways of breastfeeding their infants for the first six months after birth,” she said.
Shangai noted that breast milk is a baby’s first vaccine, the first and best protection they have against illness and disease with newborns.
“Experts say that with breast milk being the major medicine and protection to various baby diseases, we have as the specialists to intensify our efforts so that many more Tanzanian children and their mothers benefit from optimal breastfeeding practices,” she noted.
She further noted that the rate of malnutrition among children in the country remains a challenge due to ignorance about appropriate infant feeding, with two-thirds of deaths of under-five children blamed on improper feeding.
Shangali also said in a bid to fight malnutrition in the district, the department provided education to 42 women groups to improve breastfeeding culture as well as taking balance diet.
Josephina Edward, one of the beneficiaries from Igale ward said that the education had helped them to gain new skills on better breastfeeding as well as changing their meals for nutritional benefits.
She noted that malnutrition in the district was surging as most of the families lacked education on balanced diet.
On her part, district acting planning officer Sikujua Edward urged village leaders to ensure that they closely follow up the implementation of the education they had received by making sure that mothers breastfeed their infants and take balanced diet meals as the district has been blessed with plenty of food.