DOH steps up campaign for exclusive breastfeeding

MANILA, Philippines – Two years ago, the Department of Health (DOH) launched an exclusive breastfeeding campaign dubbed “Breastfeeding TSEK (Tama, Sapat, Eksklusibo to step up its program to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth up to 6 months.

Exclusive breastfeeding means that the baby is fed with nothing but breast milk (no water, liquids, infant formula or food) for the entire 6 months from the baby’s birth.

The DOH said that at 6 months, the baby is ready for complementary food while continuing to be breastfed up to two years.

In promoting breastfeeding which initially targetted new and expectant mothers in highly urbanized areas, the DOH has cited the many health benefits that the baby derives from it such as lower risk of diarrhea, pneumonia, and chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes throughout their lifetime.

In launching the campaign, the DOH has targetted the country to move closer to attaining its Millennium Development Goals on child health and revive the strong breastfeeding movement in 1986 when then President Corazon Aquino signed into law the Milk Code (EO 51) or the National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements and Related Products.

Now, the DOH has stepped up its campaign to promote breastfeeding for babies by advocating for the posting of signage that says: “Bawal ang Formula (Infant baby formula is prohibited) in nursery sections and maternity ward in public health facilities.

In launching this campaign, Center for Health Development in the Ilocos officials Gaylene De Sesto and Bernabe Garcia said that  the baby should be breastfed  as colostrum, a thick and yellowish fluid that the mother’s breasts produce in the first few days after delivery is rich in antibodies and minerals which provides newborns with the first immunization against many of the diseases that

Sesto said that 30 minutes after birth, the newborn baby is placed in the mother’s chest for the “unang yakap” or first bonding between the mother and her child and this triggers the baby’s instinct to seek the mother’s breast for suckling, thus stimulates the breast glands to produce milk.

The center also promotes breastfeeding the baby from birth to six months up to two years while he is introduced to solid foods.

Garcia said that most public health facilities in the region are now baby friendly as indicated with the provision of breastfeeding section in agencies, offices and even private establishments like SM.

The DOH said children who were breastfed grow healthier, more intelligent and active in later life. (With report by Miriam P. Aquino, PIA 1, La Union)