The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), jointly with the Emirates Health Services (EHS) and other local health authorities, has launched a series of activities to mark World Breastfeeding Week, which is held under the theme 'Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility', with the aim to enhance community awareness about breastfeeding, consolidate its practices, and encourage the work to protect breastfeeding in order to improve the public health.
The activities include awareness lectures that are going to take place in hospitals and health centers about the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and children and the need for work to protect it.
Other activities include posting awareness-raising messages on the ministry's social media platforms about the benefits of breastfeeding and its role in improving children's physical and mental health and protecting them from infections and diseases.
World Breastfeeding Week is an occasion to highlight the leading efforts of the UAE to protect breastfeeding, most importantly a resolution on regulating the marketing of products related to infants and young children, said His Excellency Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, Assistant Undersecretary for the Health Centers and Clinics Sector and Public Health.
The resolution aims to greatly contribute to protecting, encouraging and supporting breastfeeding through regularizing the activities of marketing and promoting foods and products related to infant and young children feeding and providing appropriate information in this area in order to protect their health, added Al Rand.
It also aims to safeguard parents from the exploitation of formula milk companies, limit the inappropriate marketing and distribution methods of breast milk alternatives, and reduce the spread of breastfeeding misconceptions which have been globally recognized that they have a negative impact on the prevalence and continuation of breastfeeding.
He noted that the ministry's participation in this occasion comes as part of its commitment to raising awareness of breastfeeding and its role in improving the physical and mental health of the mother and child, stressing that increasing breastfeeding rates are the perfect way for having good family relationships and achieving a healthy society in which the individuals enjoy their health and wellbeing.
Al Rand shed light on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on breastfeeding, which includes the early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond, stressing the ministry's commitment to carrying out these recommendations owing to their great impact on boosting child immunity and protecting newborns from infectious diseases, especially during the breastfeeding period and childhood.
Consolidating breastfeeding culture
Dr. Esmat Al Qassem, Head of the Maternity and Childhood Department, said: 'The activities aim to raise awareness of mothers about the importance of breastfeeding, consolidate the culture of breastfeeding, and increase its rates so as to maintain mothers' and children's health and achieve a disease-free society.'
Al Qassem asserted the commitment of the country’s health institutions to providing breastfeeding support services in hospitals and health clinics in order to enable mothers to practice breastfeeding in accordance with sound foundations. These services include breastfeeding counseling, psychological support and empathy, and confidence-building, in addition to providing information, recommendations and practical assistance by female consultants specialized in this field, she explained.