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Inadequate male support key challenge of breastfeeding women - Heath Minister

Aug 3, 2017, 12:22 PM | Article By: Isatou Senghore

One of the key challenges of Gambian women in breastfeeding is inadequate support from male partners at home and in workplaces, the health minister has said.

Minister Saffie Lowe-Ceesay said the other challenges that Gambian women face in breastfeeding include long working hours, psycho-social pressure, inadequate access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, and aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes.

She made this remark on Wednesday at a hotel in Kololi during the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week on the theme ‘Sustaining breastfeeding together’.

The minister said despite the challenges, in The Gambia, almost all the children, about 99 per cent, have been breastfed.

However, she continued, only 52 per cent are breastfed within an hour of birth and 48 per cent are exclusively breastfed from birth to six months.

“It is recommended that children be put to the breast immediately or within one hour after birth,” she said.

Madam Lowe-Ceesay said The Gambia is among the first countries to champion parent-friendly workplace and to advocate for breastfeeding-friendly workplace among public and private companies and institutions to ensure support for breastfeeding working mothers.

The UNICEF deputy resident representative, Rupert J. Leighton, commended the commitment of The Gambia government for enacting the Breastfeeding Promotion Regulation 2006.

The government also adopted the Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes, which promotes exclusive breastfeeding.

Mr Leighton said UNICEF would continue to support the government and partners to ensure that no child or woman is left behind, and to work collaboratively towards sustainable breastfeeding and improve on best practices on breastfeeding in The Gambia.

“We must take up the challenge to ensure that all Gambian babies are given the best possible start in life,” he said.

The executive director of National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), Pa Modou Phaal, said:  “If there is any cultural practise that we are going to abandon, please let it not be exclusive breastfeeding. Let’s us support and promote exclusive breastfeeding. Let us ensure that our family practise exclusive breastfeeding.”

He said the government is on the right track in terms of providing the relevant policies and programmes for exclusive breastfeeding.