Saturday February 22 2014

Encourage exclusive breastfeeding

I thank mothers who breastfeed their children beyond the minimum requirement of two years. The UN notes that breast milk gives infants all the nutrients they need for healthy development. It is safe and contains antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide.

According to a research by Ingunn Marie (2007) on low adherence to exclusive breastfeeding in eastern Uganda, exclusive breastfeeding seems to have a protective effect on HIV-1 transmission compared to mixed feeding.

However, a recent UN report indicates that globally, only an estimated 38 per cent of infants are exclusively breastfed for six months. UNICEF has observed that about 40 per cent of the children in Uganda are breastfed up to two years. This figure is worrying, considering that a healthy economy requires a healthy population.

It is indeed factual that the demands of modern society in the context of modern work have skyrocketed. This has especially pressed hard the plight of women in employment. Many have switched to resorting to crude means of attending to children. Such methods have included using milk pumps or feeding children almost exclusively on animal milk.

Organisations must provide chances for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies. Uganda needs a very strong vibrant young population. Our nation has one of the youngest population in the world, with 77 per cent of its population under 30 years. These are supposed to form a strong foundation for economic development.

As our country focuses on realising vision 2014, we must invest heavily in the health of our children. We need more scientists and a disease resistant generation to reduce government expenditure on health . I view breast feeding of children as a human right our nation must cherish.

Let us all join together to support global breastfeeding for a better and healthy nation.

John Vianney Ahumuza
Uganda Christian University, Mukono