Downward Trend In EBF Rates

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Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) rates dropped drastically from 63.7 per cent in 2008 to 46 per cent in 2011 according to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).

This could spell doom for the future in the area of health, as the gains made over the years are gradually being eroded, says Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

She blamed the reduction in the breastfeeding rate in the country on the lack of the requisite institutions to sustain public education on the benefits of breastfeeding and to ensure that education was made part of Antenatal care.

She said challenges such as the misconceptions about exclusive breastfeeding without giving the baby water and societal discouragement, had also accounted for the downward trend in EBF rates.

She said people should not listen to non-factual pieces of advice, but rather consult health professionals to explain the truth and benefits of the entire programme.

Dr Quansah-Asare was addressing a press conference prior to the launch of the 2014 World Breast Feeding Week celebrations, which focused on breastfeeding as a winning goal for life.

She said Ghana could not afford to lose a generation to preventable illnesses like diarrhea, malnutrition, dental problems, obesity and all manner of infections.

According to her, studies had confirmed that exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of six months from birth and continuing till two years, improved the cognitive skills, prevented stunting, wasting and obesity with its attendant complications.

She indicated that exclusive breastfeeding had the potential of prolonging a baby?s life and drastically reducing under-five mortality as well as maternal mortality because it also prevents breast cancer and the possibility of bleeding after childbirth.

She said babies that were not exclusively breastfed but introduced to infant formulas were susceptible to various disease and infections and were either less or overweight.

Dr Quansah-Asare said the GHS intends whipping up public interest, especially among pregnant women, lactating mothers, the youth and civil society as a whole.

Again the GHS is working towards advocacy that would improve the length of maternity leave for working mothers from the present 12 weeks to 14 weeks and subsequently to six months to provide for ample time for breastfeeding. GNA

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