‘Breastmilk for the win’! MOH encouraging breastfeeding to attain SDGs
In an interview with JIS News, Director of Nutrition Services Sharmaine Edwards said the 17 goals, under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are grouped under four key thematic areas, namely: survival, health and well-being; nutrition, food security and poverty reduction; environment and climate change; and women’s productivity and employment.
There is also a focus on sustainable partnerships and the rule of law, is not one of the thematic areas of the SDGs but is important in achieving the overall goals.
Edwards further noted that breastfeeding contributes to health and wellbeing as it can reduce the risk of chronic diseases by 13 per cent. It can also lower the global mortality of children under five years, which stands at approximately 45 per cent.
She added that the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, which is from conception to age two, are very critical to determining the child’s future.
“Breast milk is the first food that a child should have and we have long promoted the various benefits of breastfeeding, from appropriate nourishment, to the first immunisation,” she said.
Edwards pointed out that breastfeeding reduces the need for expensive milk substitutes, adding that some countries spend up to $54 billion on these products.
“While we are aware and understand that not everybody will breast feed for various reasons, from personal choice to health-related reasons, and we are mindful that breast milk substitutes are needed, we are concerned about the overindulgence in the breast milk substitutes,” she said.
The Nutrition Director pointed out that children, who are breast-fed perform better in academics.
“They can get as much as 2.6 percentage points higher on tests of intelligence and what this shows it that there is a dose response, meaning the longer the child is breast fed, the higher the scores are,” she said.
She noted further that if women are given paid breastfeeding breaks, more maternity entitlements, spaces in their workplaces where they can go privately to express their breastmilk, they would be better off.
“If the child is breast fed, they will be sick less often and mothers will not have to take time off to take a sick child to the doctor,” she outlined.