PHL praised for increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates

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.

For this year, the World Breastfeeding Week will be held on August 1-7. Its slogan and theme is: Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal For Life!

The objectives of WBW 2014 are: 1) To provide information about the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), and how they relate to breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding (IYCF); 2) To showcase the progress made so far and the key gaps in breastfeeding and IYCF; 3) To call attention to the importance of STEPPING UP actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as a key intervention in the MDGs and in the post 2015 era; and 4) To stimulate interest among young people of both genders to see the relevance of breastfeeding in today’s changing world.

But did you know that during the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week in 2012, the International Labor Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) praised the government of the Philippines for the significant increase in the country’s exclusive breastfeeding rates?

The three respected organizations congratulated the Philippine government for the significant increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates in the country based on figures released by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) that showed 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.

Dr. Soe Nyunt-U, WHO Representative in the Philippines, praised the Philippine government for leading the initiatives on breastfeeding promotion across the country in collaboration with various partners and added that this concerted effort along with a strong, policy and legislative framework that is making a difference.

Nyunt-U said breastfeeding can save the lives of both mothers and babies as it is one of the important interventions to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Representative said that efforts to increase breastfeeding rates take the cooperation and commitment of many actors from different sectors and that they have seen in recent years the coming together of many different partners from the government, political leaders, NGOs, other civil society organizations and media to support these efforts.

“This is the key to sustained improvements in breastfeeding and ultimately in physical and mental development of children in the Philippines,” Hozumi said.

According to Director Lawrence Jeff Johnson of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Office for the Philippines, the ILO has been working to encourage employers to support women’s rights to breastfeed during work hours.

“Workplaces which provide space and time for mothers to continue breastfeeding, profit in terms of increased productivity, reduced parental absence, lower healthcare costs, higher rate of return to work, increased staff loyalty and reduced training budget,” said Director Johnson.

Hosumi added that the Milk Code or Executive Order 51, signed by President Corazon Aquino in 1986 ensures that breastfeeding is protected and women are given clear information on the benefits of breastfeeding without undue influence of infant formula companies.#