Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mother’s Milk Is God’s Perfect Gift


Kapehan forum at Smokehauz Resto & Bar on August 7, 2010 discussed the topic, "Breastfeeding" in observance of World Breastfeeding week held every August 1-7. Guests included Dr. Vic Santamaria, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Felma Dela Cruz, Aklan Medical Society, Ms. Cecile de Lemos, Breastfeeding Coordinator, Ms. Criscini Roxas, Nutritionist – Dietician, Ms. Marisa Carillo, Nurse II, Engr. Lou Santamaria, Breastfeeding Advocate, Ms. Chona Custodio, Federation Pres. Brgy. Health Worker (BHW), Ms. Eula Magwale, Breastfeeding Champion, Mr. Kaka Carillo, Coordinator, Gerry Roxas Foundation and Junie Repiano, SB member of New Washington. Some 28 Chapter Federation Presidents of BHW’s, Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) and midwives were also present.

In the words of Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino, the basic advocacy on breastfeeding gives utmost importance of insuring infant survival and health of a new generation. Children are the treasures of the world.

Ms. De Lemos pointed to the legal basis of breastfeeding week as RA10028 which features mass promotion, breastfeeding demonstration, and judicious use of breast milk for at least six months of life. PHO data reveal that current breastfeeding acceptance among mothers slided to 50 percent from a high of 60.24 percent in 2009. The culprit is the powerful lobbying of milk companies thwarting the objectives of DOH toward milk self sufficiency and sustainability.

To Dr. Dela Cruz, breast milk is God’s perfect gift and under no circumstances should it be withheld from a baby. Even during critical times when the mother is ill say infected with hepatitis B, she can safely breastfeed provided the baby is immediately immunized against the disease. Similarly, pulmonary TB patients can do it by taking curative drugs for at least two weeks. Even problems of small breast and inverted nipples could be coaxed to yield significant flow of milk, said Dela Cruz.

As a 2009 Aklan breastfeeding champion, Ms. Magwale has a healthy and hefty one and a half year old child, an eloquent testimony to positive values of breastfeeding. Her baby was fed exclusively on mother’s milk for six months and later given supplemental food rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Playing a key role is her husband who convinced her to go home to Aklan rather than work in Metro Manila. She hopes to find more breastfeeding champions in every municipality and barangay to serve as role models.

Breastfeeding program, spearheaded by DOH with the participation of the DA and DepEd, is vigorously pursued since the early 1990’s. Since 20 years, the acceptance rate remains static at 50 percent. There is a trend toward higher con-sumption of infant milk formula. Actually, trend toward breast feeding is borne out of necessity rather than informed decision.

A closer look at the economic spectrum shows that almost 50 percent of the population is on the grip of poverty. They live on less than P100 per day for a family of five members. Breastfeeding is long been associated with the poor portrayed by the iconic portrait of Virgin Mary and her son.

The remaining 50 percent comprise the predominantly working moms and the few rich could be difficult to enlist. Working women augment family income but are inconvenienced to breast feed their babies at the workplace, hence the need to bottled feed. For the rich, they patronize expensive infant milk products.

The World Health Organization in its millennium objective promotes breastfeeding to reduce 22 percent neonatal deaths. It is advantageous for families in developing countries to avail of the cleanest, complete and easily digestible food.

All babies worldwide weighs between 7 and 8 pounds at birth. Their weighs differ very sharply latter depending on how food is administered. Mother’s milk provides all the nutrition a baby needs and weight gain is faster. Bottled feed ones grow slowly. In addition, bottle feeding cost 10 percent more. Undoubtedly, breastfeeding done since prehistoric times is both credible and sensible.

Dairy milk consumption should not be viewed in the bad light since it is a rich source of protein, Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iron. Pregnant lactating mothers ought to drink milk at least two glasses a day since 50 percent of them are suffering from nutritional anemia. Impact on child’s health and future could be gauged by quality of milk produced by mothers.

Unfortunately, the adequacy of milk production in the country is limited to two percent. It should be in the nation’s interest that dairy production be intensified to supply local demand and reduce importation.

It is heartwarming that a big delegation of BHW and BNS from all over Aklan graced the Kapehan forum. These are the frontliners and implementors of primary health care who receive meager allowance. BNS worker receives an average of P3,500 a month while BHW gets P300. While basic salaries of Rural Health Physician has been upgraded to P28,000 a month, the DOH must do the same to other dedicated personnel.

To motivate people to work is to give adequate compensation and stability.

Kalibo CCTV covered the August 7 Kapehan Forum. /MP

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