South Sudan: Health Experts Underscore Breastfeeding As Best Practice

By Staff Writer

Health experts in South Sudan have called upon all policy makers as well as the general public to protect and promote the practice of exclusive breastfeeding of infants up to six months of age in the country.

Rita Juan Demetry, Senior Nutrition Inspector in the Ministry of Health said that this simple and natural act of breastfeeding is one of the valuable things a mother can give to her child.

 “Exclusive breastfeeding to an infant is so important from 0-6 months of life, this is so important and it starts from within an hour of birth up to 6 months,” she told Journalists in Juba on Thursday ahead of the annual breastfeeding week that starts from August 1st until 7th.

She noted that early breastfeeding protects the child from many childhood illness and malnutrition.

“Although South Sudan has made significant progress in increasing exclusive breastfeeding, this is not enough as three out of every 10 new-born children are denied their right to a healthy start to life, breast milk is the best milk you cannot buy from the market,” added Demetry.

Jesca Wude Murye, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Nutrition Officer said that the first 1000 days of life is ‘critical window of opportunity’ for optimal growth and development.

She disclosed that 3 out of 10 children in the country are deprived of exclusive breastfeeding and that 1 out of 10 children (6-23 months) receive adequate and appropriate diverse food with breastfeeding.

Murye emphasized that optimal feeding during the first 2 years of life is critical for good physical and cognitive development and bright future of a child.

“Breast milk is a whole food up to six months and complements nutrient needs till 2 years and beyond and it contains antibodies to protect against diseases like diarrhea & respiratory infections and saves life,” she said.

Murye added that breastfeeding also helps to develop a child’s jaws and teeth, adding that suckling develops facial and jaw structure and frequent skin-to-skin contact with mother leads to better psychomotor.

According to the Joint statement issued by  the Ministry of Health and UNICEF,  exclusive breastfeeding of up to six months and complementary feeding after six months along with continued breastfeeding until a child turns two years old and beyond, helps build a child’s immunity, and protects them against common childhood illnesses.

It added that exclusive breastfeeding is also the most defensive weapon in a mother’s arsenal to protect her child from malnutrition.

 “Early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding for two years or more, is the best possible start a child can receive, Breastfeeding plays a critical role in the prevention of malnutrition, infant morbidity and mortality, particularly against common childhood illnesses like, diarrhea and pneumonia,” it said.

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