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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cameroon: Breastfeeding to Reduce Infant Mortality

The Minister of Public Health will today launch the World Breastfeeding week in Cameroon.
Statistics from UNICEF indicate that every year, nearly nine million children die before their fifth birthday. Breastfeeding, UNICEF experts say is one of the most effective ways to reduce the death rate amongst children. This is why the World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated every year from 1st to 7 August in more than 120 countries to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. In Cameroon, the breastfeeding week will be launched today at the Yaounde Gynaecologic-Obstetric and Paediatric Hospital by the Minister of Public Health under the theme: "Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps - the Baby Friendly Way." The theme focuses on the idea that health-care workers have an upper hand in influencing mothers' behaviour towards breastfeeding.

As the 2010 World Breastfeeding Week goes on, the government and UNICEF have joined a worldwide movement, encouraging mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies as breast milk is the best food a baby can have since it gives a child the best possible start in life. Medically it is said that while early initiation of breastfeeding contributes to reducing overall neonatal mortality by close to 20 per cent, the vast majority of mothers do not exclusively breastfeed their children.

Through a 10 step project on Breastfeeding, UNICEF together with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and the World Health Organization is seeking to educate policy-makers, donors, partners, health-care workers and the public about the benefits of breastfeeding. The project is aimed at providing the right start for every infant and is currently being applied in hospitals in more than 150 countries. It includes helping mothers begin breastfeeding within half an hour of birth, allowing mothers and infants to remain together for 24 hours a day and giving no artificial way to breastfeeding infants. Influencing the attitudes of mothers is the ultimate goal, as health-care workers play an important role in the 10 step project on breastfeeding. As such the current breastfeeding week will also draw the attention of health workers who have a profound and important influence on what mothers decide about how to feed their children.

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