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Minister of Health, Horace Dalley, has called for more support in the promotion and encouragement of breastfeeding across the country.
In his message, read by Acting Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry, Dr. Yvonne Munroe, at the launch of National Breastfeeding Week 2006, held at the Spanish Town Hospital yesterday (September 18), Minister Dalley said that breastfeeding was the only true source of untainted nutrition for infants.
He noted that with the growing trend of mothers who have to return to work and had not fully grasped how to balance work and breast feeding, “the use of and early dependence on milk substitutes and inappropriate feeding utensils begin to set in”.
“The aim of the Ministry of Health is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life, as this helps to protect the child from various diseases and that is why I join the national effort to promote, preserve and protect breastfeeding,” Minister Dalley said.
Co-ordinator of the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Programme in the Ministry of Health, Marsha Woolery said that despite government’s efforts to boost the prevalance of breastfeeding, the average rate of exclusive breastfeeding up to three months remained at 32 per cent in 2005. She noted that this was below the national target of 70 per cent set by the World Summit for Children Year 2000.
She pointed out that a public education programme was on-going, to encourage breastfeeding and complementary feeding to meet the nutritional needs of children.
Miss Woolery said that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have agreed to collaborate with the ‘Code’ stakeholders to ensure the on-going implementation and monitoring of the global framework for breastfeeding protection.
The ‘Code’ of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly, out of concerns that inappropriate commercial marketing of infant formulae was the cause of a large number of infant deaths.
The ‘Code’ is a set of guidelines developed for the protection of breastfeeding by regulating the marketing of all breast milk substitutes, including infant formulae, juices, cereals and mineral water as well as all feeding utensils, such as bottles and nipples.
National Breastfeeding Week is being observed under the theme – ‘Code Watch: 25 years of Protecting Breastfeeding’.