NUTRITION: Exclusive breastfeeding rates in PHL rise as DOH steps up campaign

Based on figures released by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), exclusive breastfeeding rates in the country have risen from 36% in 2008 to 47% in 2011. Moreover, the initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of delivery has increased from 32 per cent in 2008 to 52 per cent in 2011.

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.

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.

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 breast feeding 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.

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

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 diseases.

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.

The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) have been promoting exclusive breastfeeding by the mother for her baby during the first six months of life and a supplemented breastfeeding for the next two or more years for the healthy growth and development of her child, and to guard him or her from lethal health problems and diseases including neonatal jaundice, pneumonia, cholera and many more.#