WHO urges to raise awareness on breastfeeding, child nutrition

ISLAMABAD-World Health Organization (WHO) has urged all stakeholders to collaborate in raising awareness, provide accurate information, and create breastfeeding-friendly environments at workplaces.
According to WHO, the organization is also supporting federal and provincial departments of health for promulgation of laws to promote and protect breastfeeding and child nutrition. 
It said that championing breastfeeding could contribute to Pakistan’s healthier generation.
The organization said that it had also provided lactation management rooms in selected health facilities to provide a conducive environment where mothers would feel comfortable to breastfeed. 
It is important to note that counselling on maternal, infant and young child nutrition is done in all 154 WHO supported nutrition stabilisation centres across the country enabling wide dissemination of these crucial messages to mothers and family members. 
The organization is supporting government of Pakistan’s efforts in promoting, protecting and sustaining breast feeding interventions by among other things setting a network of baby friendly hospitals, provision of breastfeeding corners in health facilities, advocacy and awareness discussions with parliamentarians, media as well as academia on importance of breastfeeding and capacity building of health care workers on maternal infant young child nutrition and lactation management. 
While congratulating the Sindh Government, during the commemoration of World Breast Feeding Week 2023, the WHO Representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Mahipala remarked “Breastfeeding saves lives of children. It is one of the most cost-effective child survival interventions. Let’s join hands to promote and protect breastfeeding.”
Pakistan has high levels of stunting at 40% and wasting (low weight for height) at 17%. Despite its manifold benefits, exclusive breastfeeding rates for six months in Pakistan remain suboptimal at 48 percent.  Studies have shown that breastfeeding can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer further underlining its significance. 
Additionally, it fosters a unique bond between mother and child, promoting emotional well-being for both parties.
Over time, global breastfeeding rates have declined, prompting the World Health Assembly’s (WHA) adoption of the International Code for Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 1981. This code emphasizes that infant formula should not be promoted in ways that hinder breastfeeding’s protection and promotion. 
Advertising and public promotion of relevant products are prohibited, and healthcare facilities should not be utilized for formula promotion. 
The code also prevents manufacturers and distributors from offering inducements to health workers for product promotion. 
Since its adoption, multiple WHA resolutions have urged member states to implement policy initiatives for breastfeeding enhancement.
It said that the introduction of the Sindh Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding Bill, 2023, is a crucial step toward enhancing the health of both children and mothers in the Sindh province. 
It sets a valuable precedent for other provinces to emulate by enacting similar legislation. 
The WHO said that breast milk, is rich in essential nutrients that are tailor-made for a newborn’s delicate digestive system. 
It provides a balanced mix of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals crucial for optimal growth and development. 
“Breast milk contains antibodies and other immune-boosting compounds that offer newborns critical protection against infections and illnesses.” 
The benefits extend beyond infancy, with breastfed children showing enhanced immunity in their early years, reducing the burden on the healthcare system, it added.

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