The Integrated Youth Needs and Welfare (NTYON), a Non-Governmental Organisation in the Upper East Region has called for the extension of maternity leave from three months to six months to enable nursing mothers exclusively breastfeed their babies.
Gulkpegu Dungu Yelpalsinaa, Issah Ibrahim, who is the Executive Director of the NGO made the call at an advocacy meeting and mini durbar organised at the sub health district level at Bongo-Soe in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region on Monday.
The forum, which was attended by stakeholders including traditional and opinion leaders, Assembly Members, Queen mothers, community health volunteers and health workers, aimed at winning the support of the stakeholders to implement the Mother and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (MBFHI) project.
It is being piloted in four districts namely the Kassena-Nankana West, the Bongo Districts, Bawku and the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region by selected NGOs and the Ghana Health Service, with the support of UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The two-year project has interventions including advocacy and focus group discussions to ensure increase demand for ante-natal and post-natal services, early initiation to breast feeding within 30 minutes after birth, exclusive breastfeeding and promoting basic new-born care.
The Yelpalsinaa cited many instances where Directors of the Ghana Education Service had warned Teachers nursing their babies not to send the babies to school.
He entreated Community members, Community Health Committees, Assembly Members and Traditional rulers as well as husbands to support in promoting exclusive breastfeeding and also ensure that pregnant women regularly attended health facilities to access antenatal and post-natal care.
“Irresponsible parenting often leads to maternal and neonatal deaths. It is therefore imperative for mothers’ clubs, health volunteer committees, health personnel, traditional and opinion leaders to help champion the course.”
Mr Isaac Adabre, the head of the Bongo-Soe sub district, said the piloting of the MBFHI was contributing significantly to improving neonatal care and reducing neonatal deaths among children between zero- to-one week in the four districts in the Region.
He attributed the success story to the commitment of health staff, traditional and religious leaders and soothsayers.
Whilst many of the community members particularly mothers took turns to give good testimonies about exclusive breastfeeding, whilst nurses at the health facility also used the occasion to educate community members on the importance of exclusive breast feeding and the need to access antenatal and postnatal care.