Kisumu county was honoured to host the 2017 national celebrations of the World Breastfeeding Week(WBW),that was celebrated in the first week of September (1st - 8th).

Sustaining Breastfeeding Together’–that has been 2017 theme,for the World Breastfeeding Week,calls for stakeholders to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. This year’s WBW marked the 25th celebrations since its initiation in 1992.

The World Breastfeeding Week is an annual global event celebrated every first week of August,however due to the elections,the national celebrations were postponed to the first week of September 2017.

As mothers and stakeholders came together to celebrate the progress in attaining the WHO recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding,Kisumu county was not left behind as Oboch Community in South West Nyakach ward hosted the national celebrations. During the launch,the deputy Governor recognized Oboch community as a baby friendly community and the best performer in exclusive breastfeeding.

In his speech,the Deputy Governor believes that breastfeeding is the solution and one of the best investments the county can make in the lives and futures of its youngest members and in the long-term strength of their societies.

Kisumu county was recognized to have been the first nationally in championing and practicing the baby friendly community initiative(BFCI) that involves exclusive breastfeeding. During the celebrations,Kisumu county and in particular Oboch community was applauded for exemplary performance in exclusive breastfeeding practice.

Speaking during the official opening of the media briefing to mark the world breastfeeding week,the county director health,Dr. Dickens Onyango recognised Kisumu county and in particular Oboch community in Nyakach sub county for exemplary performance.

According to the government data,close to 76% of the county’s children are exclusively breastfed. As reports indicate,more mothers in Oboch community are 100% breastfeeding their babies,especially within the recommended one hour of birth. Compared nationally,the high percentage shows a significant improvement in breastfeeding practices among Kisumu mums.

World Breastfeeding Week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action(WABA),a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection,promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocent Declarations,the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

The government of Kenya has been promoting breastfeeding in a big way,and creating awareness about the benefits of mothers’ milk for the healthy growth and development of a new born child. The ministry of health launched a nationwide programme Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI)to promote breastfeeding,and also released national guidelines to start lactation management centres in government hospitals to ensure sick and pre-term babies are fed with safe human breast milk.

Mother’s Milk is Important for Child Survival and Health. According to Dr. Mary Obade,County Director Nutrition,breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the new born deaths. Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhoea than children who are exclusively breastfed,which are two leading causes of death in children under-five years of age. 

Children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes,obesity,allergies,asthma,childhood leukaemia,sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits,it is said that breastfeeding also has tremendous impact on improved IQ.

There is effectively no better alternative to human milk,which is why government is also focusing on human milk banking to ensure pre-term babies and babies whose mothers can’t produce milk grow well.

By MATILDA ATIENO

COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER

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