Breastfeeding Can Save A Million Babies – Minister

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By Staff Reporter

ABOUT one million children’s lives could be saved by optimal breastfeeding for at least 23 months, acting Health minister Professor Amon Murwira said.

Murwira said lack of breastfeeding accounts of up to 13% infant mortality.

He made the remarks while launching the breastfeeding week commemorations in Harare Friday.

“Breastfeeding should be at the core of our efforts if we are to achieve a sustainable development goal by 2030. Over 820 000 children could be saved yearly if all children from zero to 23 months were optimally breastfed. Breastfeeding is low cost, highly impacting healthy intervention shown to prevent 13 percent of all deaths in children under two years old,” Murwira said.

“In addition, breastfeeding also prevents an extra 20 000 deaths in women from breast cancer every year,”  he added.

The 2021 breastfeeding week is running under the theme: “Protecting breastfeeding a shared responsibility.”

Zimbabwe as a breastfeeding country has a policy that provides for every child to be breastfed exclusively for six months the period Murwira said is not affected by “the mother’s HIV status or whether the mother or child has Covid-19.”

In the wake of Covid-19, the government implored breastfeeding mothers to continue breastfeeding even if they contract Covid-19 as their children can be protected by face masking.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many mothers being afraid of breastfeeding when they have or show symptoms of Covid-19, regarding this, mothers suspected or confirmed with Covid-19 are encouraged to initiate and continue to breastfeed. At home, if a mother has Covid-19 symptoms and is afraid that a child can be affected, the government recommends that she wears a mask when breastfeeding. There is no need to stop breastfeeding,” Murwira said.

In line with this year’s breastfeeding theme, the government urged husbands and other close family members to support breastfeeding mothers.