Support for breastfeeding is one of the smartest investments Cameroon can make, medics have said.
The Medical Doctors took turns in explaining the benefits of breastfeeding in a roundabout discussion organised by UNICEF at it’s head office in Yaounde. The forum which brought together UNICEF’s experts, different public health officials and pressmen was in commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
While opening the forum, UNICEF presented the bleak picture of breastfeeding trends in Cameroon. The presentation revealed that malnutrition rates have remained high because of poor support towards breastfeeding. The presentation also highlighted how women still encounter significant obstacles in breastfeeding their babies such as insufficient lactation counseling to a lack of time and privacy. In the end UNICEF said support is needed through tighter legislation on marketing of breast milk substitutions and pro-breastfeeding policies like maternity leave and creating baby friendly hospitals.
Picking up from the presentation, Dr. Kanada said, breastfeeding acts as a baby’s first vaccine and when done exclusively for the first six months of an infant’s life, as recommended by the World Health Organization, it can significantly improve the health, development and survival of children. To him, increasing breastfeeding would reduce and significantly prevent child deaths. According to Dr. Kanada, breastfeeding protects the health of women by reducing the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Meanwhile Professor Tenanye, opined that breastfeeding remains a national challenge. To him, fighting hunger while improving nutrition, health and well being through breastfeeding brings us closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 3.
“The government needs to know that breastfeeding contributes to gains in education and economic development, reductions in poverty, and sustainable development . Optimal breastfeeding is a crucial component in the early years of every child’s life to support the development of “gray matter infrastructure” and contribute to the cognitive and socioemotional skills that are crucial to prepare children for the jobs of tomorrow.
In the end the medics agreed that collective action is needed to improve the breastfeeding rates in Cameroon. They all urged government and stakeholders to take action in the bid to not only improve the health and survival of women and infants but equally come closer to realizing the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals.