Mrs Victoria Letsa, Chief Executive Officer, VICARCHIE Limited Ghana, a business entity in Ho, has said that improving exclusive breastfeeding and promoting good nutrition for children required holistic and urgent action.
She said the policy on exclusive breastfeeding was non-negotiable and urged lactating mothers to maintain the protocols for the total development and growth of their babies.
She said breastmilk contained ingredients that helped to prevent risk of acquiring non-communicable diseases, including childhood asthma, obesity, diabetes, and heart related diseases, thus the need to improve exclusive breastfeeding in the country.
Mrs Letsa was speaking at the launch of “Start-Right, Feed-Right”- from Birth to Two Years Campaign,” aimed to create awareness and solicit stakeholders’ support to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good nutrition for children.
She said children who were breastfed exclusively for six months and provided with food, which contained the right balanced nutrients between that period and two years, were likely to be healthier and perform better at school than those who failed the protocols.
Mrs Letsa said if the country’s future generations had to be placed on the right pedestal to survive and compete favourably in their field of endeavour, “then we have to start right”.
She called for provision of an enabling environment for nursing mothers in order to promote, support and sustain breastfeeding.
Dr Senanu Kwesi Djokoto, Deputy Volta Regional Director, in-charge of Public Health, said “starting right, means giving our children; the next generation the perfect foundation. Breast milk comes at no cost to us.”
He said the campaign required support from all including traditional leaders, religious leaders, health workers, the media, husbands and wives to ensure its sustainability and achieved the desired result.
The Director said maternal and child undernutrition were estimated to account for 11 percent of the global burden of disease, while childhood malnutrition was considered the root cause of mortality in 45 percent of all death among children.
Dr Djokoto said the year-long campaign was initiated by the Family Health Unit of the Ghana Health Service to address the breastfeeding rates that had dropped and “children who receive adequate meals by recommended WHO standards.”
“Good nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life is important for good physical and mental development and long-term health benefits,” he added.