Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in breastfeeding support services, while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition.
This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In a joint statement the two organisations have said that while there has been progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades, with a 50 per cent increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally, the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of those gains.
They noted that breastfeeding is central to realising the commitment to end child malnutrition by initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond with safe and healthy complementary foods.
“ Timing is everything and it is recommended to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour after delivery ,” read the statement.
This week marks the beginning of the World Breastfeeding week and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that this year is a historic opportunity to transform the way the world tackles the global commitment to eliminate child malnutrition.
In an interview with KBC Channel1 Rose Wambu, Ministry of Health, Division of Nutrition said that all women of reproductive age need to have information on how to breastfeed noting that it creates a bond between the mother and the baby.
She explained that breastfeeding also helps with the immunity of the baby while still helping the mothers get into shape quickly.
— KBC Channel1 News (@KBCChannel1) August 1, 2021
According to UNICEF, breast milk provides antibodies that give babies everywhere a healthy boost and protect them against many infections.
Similarly, breastfeeding significantly reduces the risk of death in newborns and young infants, provides lifelong health benefits for children, and improves the health of mothers as well.
After a baby is born, mothers should engage in skin-to-skin contact with the newborn by placing child close to enable the early initiation of breastfeeding.
— KBC Channel1 News (@KBCChannel1) August 2, 2021