Govt wants employers to support lactating mothers
04 August 2016, 14:00
Nairobi - The Acting Director of Medical Services, Dr. Jackson Kioko today officially launched the World Breastfeeding week at Panafric Hotel Thursday.
The World Breastfeeding Week runs from August 1 to August 7, 2016. This year’s event focuses on creating awareness on the link between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme strives to show that both aspects are equally important in achieving SDGs and a country can’t do without the other.
Kenya joined a host of other nations around the world in marking the event, more so as a signatory to the World Health Assembly International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. In 1981, Kenya committed itself to promote, protect and support breastfeeding through the provision of adequate information on appropriate infant feeding and the regulation of the marketing of breast milk substitutes, bottles and teats.
Kenya enacted the Breast Milk Substitute Regulation and control ACT in 2012, whose main purpose is to provide for: Appropriate marketing and distribution of breast milk substitutes (BMS), Safe and adequate nutrition for infants through the promotion of breastfeeding and Proper use of BMS where necessary and for connected purposes.
Dr. Jackson Kioko, who represented the Cabinet Secretary for health Dr. Cleopa Mailu, urged both the private and public sectors to ensure that they create a conducive working environment for mothers such as creating breastfeeding facilities and flexi-time to allow mothers to exclusively breastfeed for six months.
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Dr. Kioko who read the CS's speech added that breast milk was also a key element in combating HIV/AIDs and that the Ministry of Health was working with the public and private sectors to provide workplace support for working mothers on resumption of duty from maternity leave.
“Breastfeeding with appropriate use of ARVs for both mother and baby remains the best infant feeding option for HIV positive women. Moreover, breastfeeding benefits both the employer and the society by strengthening family ties, reducing staff absenteeism and saving money which would otherwise be used for hospital bills when children are sick.”
Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention for overall child survival, growth and development. Breast milk remains the best source of nutrition for the newborn and children. It greatly improves the quality of life for infants and young children through its nutritional, immunological, and psychological benefits and is a child’s first inoculation against death, disease and poverty. It's also their most enduring investment in physical, cognitive, and social capacity.
Scientific research has also proven that breast milk helps in reducing infant morbidity and mortality, increases Intelligent Quotient (IQ) score, improves school achievement and boosts adult earnings.
Other government initiatives such as the Free Maternity Services and Beyond Zero campaign have also offered unique opportunities to improve early initiation of breastfeeding as more women are now delivering in hospitals where support is readily available.
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