As Liberia celebrates this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Health, Madam Norwu G. Howard, has called on mothers, especially the young ones, to prioritize breastfeeding to help keep their babies happy and smart.
She said the lack of priority for breastfeeding, especially during the early age of a child, contributes to poor nutrition and reduces children’s ability.
“We want mothers, especially the younger ones, to prioritize breastfeeding,” she said.
Hon. Howard made the statement over the weekend in Paynesville at a program marking the celebration of World Breastfeeding Week in Liberia.
According to her, breastfeeding remains important as breast milk helps keep babies healthy, smart, and strong.
“The week is aimed at educating new mothers about the importance of breastfeeding,” she explained.
Min. Howard used the occasion to call on the legislative branch of the Liberian government to protect women’s rights and implement breastfeeding at the community level.
She disclosed that significant efforts have been made in recent years by the government of Liberia with support from its development partners to improve nutrition.
The Deputy Minister, then, praised WaterAid, ActionAid, the World Health Organization, IrishAid, and other local and international organizations for their continuous support to the Liberian government in the areas of nutrition and health.
Speaking at the event, UNICEF Deputy Country Representative, Amadou A. Sesay expressed his institution’s continuous commitment to the Liberian government.
He said UNICEF still remains committed to strengthening ties with the Liberian government to making sure that the targeted goals for health for the government are realized.
For her part, Teta Lincoln, Senior Advisor for Health and Nutrition at the Embassy of Ireland, said the embassy was pleased to celebrate the historic event along with the government.
She urged Liberians to do more to raise breastfeeding awareness, emphasizing that Ireland, as a partner, will continue to assist the government in the area of nutrition.
As for WaterAid Liberia Country Director, Chuchu Selma, noted that his organization was gratified to be a part of such an event.
Selma admonishes new mothers to always wash their hands before breastfeeding their children.
According to him, WaterAid has been providing support to the sector as a means of improving nutrition in the country.
“We are committed to assisting the government in promoting and improving the issue of nutrition in Liberia,” Selma said.
Also speaking, River Cess County District#2 Representative Byron Zahnwea, who is a member of the WASH Legislative Caucus, described breastfeeding as a key to every child’s health.
“We want to encourage each and every one of us that we need from our homes to preach the message of breastfeeding,” Rep. Zahnwea said.
The Director of Nutrition at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Annette Brimah-Davis, commended the Ministry and the development partners for their support for the nutritional division in improving breastfeeding and child growth.
“This Celebration is in line with the World Protocol of Breastfeeding that officially started on August 1—7.” Davis said.
Meanwhile, Sinoe County District #2 Representative, Samson Wiah, has urged the authorities at the Ministry of Health to make the issue of breastfeeding a part of its decentralization process.
Wiah encouraged the Health Ministry to reach areas in the rural parts of the country where health workers would be able to organize similar events.
The inaugural World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was in August of 1992, with a focus on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.
The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is the organization behind WBW and was formed in 1991, the day after Valentine’s Day.
WABA collaborates with WHO and UNICEF, agreeing that breastfeeding is a human right of mothers and children.
Each year, WABA promotes a focus for World Breastfeeding Week, such as “The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, The First Hour, and Exclusive Breastfeeding.”
In 1989, WHO and UNICEF released a joint statement titled “Protecting, Promoting, and Supporting Breastfeeding.”
This year, the week was observed under the theme: “Step Up for Breastfeeding, Educate and Support.”
Signed: Felecia Gbesioh
Director of Communications