Wednesday 1 August 2018
Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) has urged mothers in Phuthaditjhaba in the Free State, to exclusively breastfeed their infants during the first six months. This was part of the child-rights organisation’s awareness drive during this World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August).
“Breastfeeding is the foundation of life, it is something that nature has given to all of us so that we may have an equal chance of survival,” said Patrick Shivuri, SCSA’s Sireletsa Bana Project Manager. The GlaxoSmithKline-funded project aims to contribute towards universal health coverage for children under the age of five in Limpopo and the Free State.
Increasing the number of children who are breastfed could save the lives of more than 820,000 children, globally, under the age of five. Exclusive breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients and early protection they need against malnutrition and preventable infections, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
In recent years, South Africa has seen the exclusive breastfeeding rate at 14 weeks improve from 32.6% in 2014 to 41.6% in 2016, while the overall breastfeeding rate for children under 6 months improved from 7% in 1998 to 32% in 2016.
Thabile Khoza, a mother who has been attending a breastfeeding support group, added that “the other important thing about breastfeeding is that it helps you bond with your child”
The Monapo Hospital runs a breastmilk bank for mothers that struggle to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. The breastmilk bank currently feeds about 180 babies a year and are in constant need of breastmilk donations.
“This is actually one of the most prolific banks in Phuthaditjhaba, the community is very supportive, we collect many litres of breast milk every week. Obviously the challenge is congruent messaging, speaking the same language, educating mommies, especially mommies that are HIV positive on treatment and breastfeeding, that they can breastfeed,” said Stasha Jordan, Executive Director of the South African Breastmilk.
Phuthaditjhaba’s Nutrition Manager, Dineo Mopeli backed Jordan’s statement by adding that “the only time a mother who is HIV positive cannot breastfeed, it is when she is seriously ill. This is because some medication or treatment that she will be taking at the time could be harmful to the child.”
Traditional healers who attended the event, called for continued partnership with the Department of Health to ensure that children are healthy. Over the past there has been some clashes between traditional and western medicine.
During this year’s breastfeeding week SCSA also visited health care facilities where it distributed 120 hampers with new-born baby care products, to pregnant women and those who recently gave birth. Contents of the hampers were sponsored by TFS Wholesalers, OBC Food, Tiger Brands and other individuals.
Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In South Africa and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share.
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