by Lorraine Anyango
Kibuye Market in Kisumu City is one of the largest markets in Africa, It’s here that many mothers earn a living, some shunning breastfeeding too soon, and it’s here that the county celebrated the World Breast Feeding Week (WBW) and set up a breastfeeding room.
This is in alignment with the health Act 2017 which requires all employers to establish lactation stations in the workplace to enable employees to sustain breastfeeding as well as increase their productivity.
And non-other than Kisumu’s first lady Mama Dorothy Nyongo launched the equipped breastfeeding room as well as taught mothers how to hold and ensure that their children are well positioned to breastfeed.
The room at the heart of the market has four breastfeeding stations that guarantee privacy for the mother and safety from uncoordinated movement in the market in the process of buying and selling.
This makes two the number of public breastfeeding stations in Kisumu that are geared toward ensuring that the mothers continue with work yet their children are not deprived of the much-needed starter in life that shields them from opportunistic infections.
The first is the Rocks and Dots ECD model, set in the Milimani area in Kisumu county which is a pilot expected to be rolled out in all sub-counties.
The thyme this year’s celebration is ‘Step up for Breastfeeding; Educate and Support’, Kenya marked the event on July 1 to 7th due to the scheduled elections, while the rest of the world will mark it from August 1st to 8th 2022.
Speaking during the celebration, Mama Dorothy Nyongo said that the vent was a milestone that accelerate efforts to reduce malnutrition in Kisumu County, adding that breastfeeding is one of the smartest investments that a country, a community, and a family can make.
“This year’s theme provides for identification of different players and their roles in the first 1000 days continuum of care, we need continuous capacity development of actors to transform existing systems through education and awareness creation on the need to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.” She said
She said that breastfeeding improves nutrition, prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases, and supports cognitive development and education.
Mama Dorothy said that breastfeeding is also an enabler in ending poverty, promoting economic growth, and reducing inequalities. It also benefits national economies, by helping lower health care costs, increasing educational attainment, and ultimately, boosting productivity. Indeed, breastfeeding is one of the most cost-effective investments available.
According to an investment framework for nutrition, breastfeeding is a value-for-money nutrition intervention. Every dollar invested in supporting breastfeeding generates an estimated 35 dollars in economic returns By contrast, low breastfeeding rates translate into billions of dollars worth of lost productivity and health care costs to treat preventable illnesses and chronic diseases.
Currently, Kisumu County Exclusive Breastfeeding rate is at 38.5% (Multiple indicator Cluster Survey, 2011), a survey done in Kisumu Central and west in 2016 indicated 75% which is a bit outdated. I know with the support of partners in the county investing in interventions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding the data could be different.
She committed to working together with partners to ensure that this to beyond even the 50% global health target. This can be seen in the county’s commitment to providing a safe space for women in the market places for breastfeeding.
“We will not only do this in the Kibuye market but will have this replicated to other upcoming markets to ensure every child born in Kisumu County is given the best start in life.” Mama Dorothy Nyogo added.
“Breastfeeding is not a woman’s job. Mothers need assistance and support from their health care providers, families, employers, communities, and governments so they can provide their children with the healthiest start to life.” She also emphasized.
The event was marked with song and dance and proper breastfeeding lessons, brought together partners working with children, and even the Advance Nutrition program which is being implemented by save the children through support from USAID.
The program is employing a multi-sectoral approach in handling issues of nutrition, with an emphasis on proper nutrition for the first 1000 days of a child, giving importance to breast milk.
Food Agricultural Organization (FAO) has been part of the multispectral approach, educating those in attendance to grow their vegetables, not only to cushion hunger but to ensure they are without chemicals and are grown organically.
Other partners included, Sky Fm, Pandpieri, Kidogo, Biodiversity, save the children UCB project, Jiopachi, Kenya Red Cross, Kidogo, St Jerome, and Living goods
In a bid to enhance adherence to policies and legislation protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding in the workplace and the general population, the county set up activities including sensitization of community health management teams, the sub-county health management teams, community health works on breast milk substitute.
The policymakers, government agencies, and the private sector as well are to be sensitized on the same and the implementation framework for securing a baby-friendly breastfeeding environment in the workplace.
On the same, institution managers are to be sensitized to the establishment of lactation stations at the workplace, breastfeeding corners to be set in the health facilities, and enforcement of school re-entry policy for teenage mothers at least a year after delivery to allow the uptake of early breastfeeding and optimal complementary feeding.