Zimbabwe this week joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Breastfeeding Week held during the first week of August each year.
Officially launching the National World Breastfeeding Week yesterday, the First Lady and Ambassador for Health and Child Care, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, underscored the importance of breastfeeding towards the reduction of child mortality and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Breastfeeding is part of our life; it is a real matter of child survival and investing in future generations.
“We now understand that for us to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, breastfeeding should be at the core of our efforts aimed at achieving these targets by 2030,” she said.
The First Lady also highlighted the contribution of breastfeeding in the fight against climate change.
“Breastfeeding is indeed a sustainable feeding option. It plays a crucial role in protecting the climate and environment.
“Our food production systems and consumption patterns are significant contributors to climate change and environmental degradation,” she added.
Statistics have shown that breastfeeding saves over 800 000 children’s lives a year worldwide, equivalent to 13 percent of all deaths in children under the age of two.
Additionally, breastfeeding has been proven to prevent an additional 20 000 deaths from breast cancer every year.
Speaking on the side-lines of the launch, Ministry of Health and Child Care Nutrition Advocacy and Communications Officer, Dexter Chagwena, highlighted the need to provide a warm chain of support from the time a woman is pregnant until her child reaches two years.
He informed that the Ministry was moving to supporting various organisations and cooperates towards establishing lactation facilities at their work premises where mothers may express and store their breastmilk for feeding after work.
“We are supporting companies to establish lactation spaces or rooms where breastfeeding mothers who have just come back from their maternity leave can be able to express breast milk there”
“Some institutions have already adopted this lactation support programme including Lafarge Cement, Chogugudza Primary School, Unicef and Save the Children.
“Other companies such as POSB and IDBZ have shown interest and are making interventions to support their staff in terms of lactation” said Chagwena.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Women Caucus have also put forward a motion in Parliament that calls for the support of breastfeeding women.