The Hunger Project Ghana has called for consistent social support for lactating mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding and improve the well-being of babies and mothers.
Mrs Stephanie Ashley, Coordinator of Hunger Project Ghana’s maternal and child healthcare improvement project said the involvement of men, extended family members and community or opinion leaders was critical to ensure women who start exclusive breastfeeding do not give up.
She said exclusive breastfeeding remained a key component in the healthy feeding of babies to guarantee their complete health and development in later years.
She was speaking at an event Anyinam to mark the 2021 world breastfeeding week on the theme: Protect breastfeeding: a shared responsibility.
Mr Ashley noted that due to several factors such as lack of understanding of the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, myths and pressure from family members, many mothers failed to practise it.
She said some lactating mothers started the practice and gave up shortly, denying babies the important nutrients needed in their formative years.
The Hunger Project is committed to ensuring the sustainable end of world hunger and in Ghana was working to build sustainable community-based programmes, using the epicentre strategy, a dynamic centre of community mobilization and action to address hunger and poverty in rural communities.
As part of activities marking this year’s world breastfeeding week, the Project collaborated with the Ghana Health Service in the Epicentre districts in Fanteakwa North, Atiwa East and Okere districts in Eastern Region and Mfantseman in Central Region on promoting breastfeeding practice.
They engaged community partners advocating all partners to get on board to promote exclusive breastfeeding in communities.
Under the maternal and child healthcare improvement project II, Mrs Ashley noted that promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and following up with complementary feeding from six months alongside breastmilk till age two and more.
This, she said was a shared responsibility that ought to be hammered to achieve the set goals of preventing many childhood diseases and overall improvement in public health.
The Hunger Project is implementing the maternal and child healthcare improvement project to address maternal and child mortalities in 15 epicentre clinics and Community Health Planning Services (CHPS) compounds across 150 rural communities in Ghana.
The project has already trained midwifery assistants under the ‘Task sharing’ policy as well as trained and formed Community Health Management Committees and volunteers to assist in outreaches and sensitisation programmes on nutrition and health.
According to health experts, breastfeeding is strongly recommended as the perfect food for all infants in this COVID-19 era.
However, the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MIS) showed that about six, out of 10 children aged 0-6 months, were exclusively breastfed in Eastern Region.
The week-long celebration was marked with durbars, outreaches, floats and role play by mother-to-mother support groups and father support groups in Atiwa East and Okere districts.
Mothers, who purposely practised exclusive breastfeeding, were commended while gifts were given to fathers who encouraged breastfeeding practice.