Garissa County has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the world breastfeeding week with a call to mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies in the first six months to ensure right growth of their young ones.
The World Health Organization (WHO) set aside the breastfeeding week to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
The theme of the week that started on August 1 and ended on August 7 is ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’.
Speaking at Bura Sub County Hospital when he presided the end of the week long activity, Fafi Sub County Medical Officer of Health (MOH), Issak Mohamed stressed the importance of breastfeeding in preventing sickness and fostering steadfast growth among children.
“A child who has been breastfed for up to two years develops extremely well and is intelligent. Mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies, starting within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old,” Issak said.
His views were echoed by the County Director of Nutrition, Shamat Yusuf who added that nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond.
“This has proved to prevent premature deaths among babies,” Yusuf said.
Speaking on behalf of partners who support nutrition interventions in the county, UNICEF’s Kenya Head of Nutrition Garissa County, Nicholas Kirimi noted that babies who are exclusively breastfed within the first six months acquire optimal immunity and get the best start in life.
The Terre Des Hommes (TDH) representative, Mohamud Osman said breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. “Breastfeeding decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type two diabetes, and heart disease,” Osman said.
“It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20,000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer,” he added.
According to WHO improved breastfeeding could globally save more than 800,000 lives every year, the majority being children under six months.
By Jacob Songok