Written by John Kabaka
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Mother's with their children during the launch.They were encouraged to breastfeed for a better and healthy future of the children. [PHOTOS | John Kabaka | West Fm]
More than 20,000 children in Western region die annually due to diseases caused by lack of breast feeding among children.
The region has a population of approximately 4 million people with 1million being children.
According to the demographic survey statistics the mortality rate can be estimated to 35% of children who die of malnutrition, anemia, diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria among other diseases, that doctors say can be taken care of via breastfeeding.
“Most of the deaths we have been witnessing here are just because mother’s especially young mothers think its fashion not to breastfeed something that lead to the death, they always forget that the mother’s milk is so vital to the child and bonds them together even more,” said provincial clinical officer of child survival activities Mr.Absalom Ingabo
“Breastfeeding is estimated to prevent 13% of all under five mortality, Appropriate feeding practices are of fundamental importance for the health, survival and development of infants and children,” added Juma Mwatsefu the Aphia plus Western region community leader.
In normal occasions a parent is supposed to breast feed from the first day of delivery to six months thereafter start incorporating with other feeds for two years.
According to ministry of public health and sanitation in the last three decades chronic malnutrition (stunting) has remained constantly high at above 30% which potentially starts in the womb of the motherand whose outcomes are irreversible after two years of life.
Emuhaya DC Muthama Wambua delivers the minister's speech during the launch in Emuhaya, Vihiga County.
Stunting prevents children from achieving their full potential both academically and economically, leading to reduced productivity in adult life and therefore a challenge to the development of our economy.
In a speech delivered on her behalf by Emuhaya District Commissioner Muthama Wambua, the minister indicated that Children have a right to adequate nutrition at all stages of development something that is well enshrined in Countries Constitution.
“Adequate nutrition is very important in determining the quality of our human capital that is required to help us achieve our Vision 2030 goals,” said the minister.
She said that exclusive breastfeeding is becoming the very best option to positive women as it saves more than 1million infants in the whole world
“Exclusive breastfeeding may be the best option for HIV positive women in resource poor settings such as ours and saves an estimated 1.5 million infants globally every year,” said the minister.
The World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was initiated by World Health Organization in 1991 and gave rise to the Innocent Declaration which was signed by 30 Governments.
Kenya is a signatory to the Declaration whose main goal is to advocate for the rights of infants and young children to proper nutrition through the protection of breastfeeding and support to women to enable them breastfeed successfully.
The 20TH World Breastfeeding celebration that was launched at Ebusakami Primary school in Emuhaya Constituncy of Vihiga has it theme as “Understanding the past, planning for the future.
The campaign that started on 1st of August has been given a name Maziwa ya mama yabamba campaign in western Kenya and it is aimed at promoting health in Western Kenya (former Western and Nyanza provinces).
The minister also observed that investing in breastfeeding leads to a healthy future nation andencouraged Kenyans to be on the forefront in encouraging breastfeeding.
“Investing in maternal, infant and young child nutrition is investing in the future of our country. I call upon all families, public, private sectors and community at large to protect, promote and support breastfeeding,” remarked the Minister.
The campaign that will be spearheaded in Western Kenya by AphiaPlus Western Kenya has receieved support from other partners including WHO, UNICEF, USAID-MCHIP, World Vision, Save the Children-UK, Goal Kenya and GAIN.
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