By Emmanuel Kanamugire
RWANDA: The National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP) is conducting the advocacy targeting employers to permit breastfeeding in the workplaces.
The United Nations for Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization recommend that young children must be breastfed within 1 hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding of 6 months.
They also encourage continued breastfeeding of 2 years or beyond and complementary breastfeeding between 6-24 months.
However, it’s hard for some mothers when they finish their three months Maternal holiday
According to the results of Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2015, the average of breastfeeding in young children under 6 months falls in 87 per cent countrywide. The average of young children of 0-1 who get well the maternal milk is 94 per cent. To those of 2-3 months, it’s 90 per cent compared to 85 per cent of 4-5 months.
The NECDP’s Maternal and Child Feeding Specialist, during a press conference in Kigali on Tuesday, 6 August 2019, said that mothers need to spend more time with their babies in the first six months which is impossible to those the employees when they finish their maternal leave.
“We started to talk with some employers asking them to help mothers of children less than six months to let them breastfeed at the workplace. This is the advocacy we are doing and the experiences show that is possible”, Macara said.
Another option is that mothers can milk themselves and leaving maternal milk at home because it remains safe at least in 5 hours out of the fridge. So, we encourage mothers to apply this technique and we know some adhere to it.
Among the benefits of breastfeeding are fighting severe children diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory associated diseases and mothers who breastfeed well are rarely attacked by breast cancer, ovary cancer among others, Macara has explained.
Maternal milk is a very complete diet a child needs and helps in fighting malnutrition and stunting, according to Mucumbitsi Head of Nutrition and Hygiene Department in NECDP.
Uwera Denyse, the Nutrition Specialist in UNICEF Rwanda, said that for the mother to breast feed well, she needs support from the family, the community including the employers. She needs a safe and clean place to sit and milk herself if necessary.
“We focus on breastfeeding in working place both in formal and informal sectors. UNICEF and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding but it’s difficult to those who work far away from home. That’s why after three months of maternal holiday, some mothers prefer to use milk from cow, and it’s not good for children less than 12 months.”
NECDP in partnership with Unicef Rwanda, Feed the Future Hinga Weze, among others will celebrate the World Breastfeeding Week ( 12-17) this month under the theme ‘Empower Parent, enable breastfeeding’. The official launch will be held in Nkombo Sector of Rusizi District, Western Province.