ISLAMABAD, Jan 18 (APP):President Dr Arif Alvi Monday emphasized the role of prayer leaders and media to promote breastfeeding in the society for a healthier future generation by preventing the children from stunting and other communicable diseases.
Addressing an “Advocacy Seminar on Protection and Promotion of Breastfeeding” here at Aiwan-e-Sadr, the president said breastfeeding was the most cost-effective intervention for children’s better growth.
First Lady Samina Alvi, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, SAPM Dr Sania Nishtar, Parliamentary Secretary on Heath Dr Nosheen Hamid, Country Representative of Unicef Aida Girma-Melaku attended the event besides parliamentarians and women from different walks of life.
Started with recitation of Qurani verses teaching the breastfeeding for 24 to 30 months, the seminar also featured a video documentary to highlight the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for at least initial six months and rubbishing some misconceptions.
The president said the frequent messaging in the society on different health issues was essential for what the role of prayer leaders, media and lady health workers was vital as they had a deeper penetration in the society.
Clarifying a misconception about the yellowish colostrum (first form of milk produced immediately after delivery of the newborn), the president said instead of wasting, it must be fed to newborn for it being full of antibodies and nutrients.
He said from the very first day of assuming the office, Prime Minister Imran Khan took up the issue of malnutrition and stunted growth which could be effectively prevented through two-year breastfeeding.
Arif Alvi told the audience that better human development was inevitable for poverty alleviation and economic development.
He said less than fifty percent of the children were not breastfed by the mothers which was unfortunate particularly in a Muslim country like Pakistan as both Quran as well as scientific research strongly advocated for mother feed with no substitute of it.
He called for displaying posters with relevant comprehensive messages in mosques for public awareness.
The president said even the formula milk producing companies should clearly tell the consumers that it was in no way a substitute to the breastfeeding.
He said the breastfed children get better protection against cancer, pneumonia, osteoporosis and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) besides having better IQ level.
He advised the mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively for six months without even serving water to the newborn and continue breastfeeding for two years.
Earlier, SAPM Dr Sania Nishtar advocated for exclusive six months breastfeeding for it being the cost-effective way to address malnutrition.
She said in new era, only the nations with better human development would compete, not those with more wealth or technology.
He said in pursuance of PM Imran Khan’s vision, 48 Ehsaas Nashonuma centers had been set up in 13 districts to address the issue of malnutrition.
SAPM Dr Faisal Sultan said around half of country’s children remain deprived of mother feed. He said malnutrition was among the major causes of death of children under five years age.
He said along with the legislation, comprehensive awareness on importance of breastfeeding was equally essential as it provided a shield to children against pneumonia and diarrhea.
He said around 0.8 million children died due to deprivation from breastfeeding. Moreover, besides the newborn, breastfeeding was also beneficial for mother’s health.
Unicef Country Director Aida Girma-Melaku said Pakistan had progressed from 38 percent to 48% regarding number breastfed children during last seven years.
She said the bottle milk could spread communicable diseases owing to contaminated water or dirty bottle.
Calling for effective legislation on the subject, the Unicef country director urged the government to continue efforts to teach the women that breastfeeding had no substitute and doctors should also not advise the formula milk until it was unavoidable.
Parliamentary Secretary Dr Nosheen Hamid said breastfeeding was essential for brain development. She said the government was planning to move a bill discourage the unnecessary use of formula milk.