‘My son is four month old. Since birth, only breast milk I have been giving to him’ says Fatmata Mansaray mother of four month old baby giving testimony during the community engagement meeting at the Government Macauley Street Hospital Central Freetown.
According to WHO, Breastfeeding is the best way to provide infants with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary foods should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.
In Sierra Leone, early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding situation is better than the global situation according to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation Directorate of Food and Nutrition.
• 56.8% newborns in the country are put to breast within an hour of birth and 61.6% of infants less than 6 months are exclusively breastfed.
• The situation in the country is far better than the average global exclusive breastfeeding rate which is less than 40%. However, there is need to continue with our efforts to ensure infants are exclusively breastfed to reach our country’s target of 80% by 2025.
In order to compliment the effort of the Ministry and it partners to reaching the 40 percent of children who are missing out from exclusive breastfeeding, in this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, FOCUS 1000 with funds from the Saving Lives Project provided support to Kombra Network Western Urban Area to educate over 40 suckling mothers and pregnant women at the Macauley Street Government Hospital on the importance of breastfeeding.
Key resource persons at meeting who provided adequate knowledge to the participants on the importance of breastfeeding were: The Matron at the Hospital, a representative from the Directorate of Food and Nutrition Mariama Kamara( is it Mariama Elle, nutrition officer DFN), Child Led Civil Society Group, Children Advocacy Network and the Chief Executive Officer of FOCUS 1000 Mohammad Bailor Jalloh.
Theresa Conteh told the audience that her mother- in- law told her to give water to her three months old baby whilst breastfeeding, she listened and her child started experiencing strange illness such as frequent stooling . ‘With knowledge gain from this meeting I would not give water to my baby anymore’ Theresa assured.
The meeting with suckling mothers and pregnant women was very interactive. I am optimistic that knowledge gained from the meeting will be translated into action.
Breastfeeding-Foundation of Life.
To learn about FOCUS 1000 Kombra Network Click here