by VENUS G. VILLANUEVA
The Provincial Health Office (PHO), Kalibo, Aklan through its Technical Services Department, is appealing to doctors to help in the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding.
According to Cecile De Lemos, Supervising Midwife and Breastfeeding Coordinator, and Crescini Roxas, Provincial Nutrition Coordinator of the PHO, there are existing laws and memorandum circulars to promote breastfeeding, but these are not thoroughly heeded by both health institutions and parents.
"We still see feeding bottles and cans of infant formula in OB wards, even as the law prohibiting this practice has long existed," said De Lemos.
The breastfeeding campaign will be totally successful if doctors help in urging would-be mothers to prepare themselves to breastfeed their babies. The physician must tell the mothers and even fathers of the benefits and advantages of the breastfeeding practice, De Lemos pointed out.
However, she lamented the strong marketing and promotional strategies of big infant formula manufacturing companies using the mass and electronic media. This greatly affects adversely the government’s promotion efforts to breastfeed infants.
Breastfeeding, according to an article from the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), improves short and long term maternal and child health. It therefore contributes to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MIDG). Breast-feeding reduces child mortality and improves maternal health – to which many countries and agencies are committed.
WABA also revealed that the UNICEF recently noted that the reduction of child deaths from 13 million globally in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008 is partly due to the adoption of basic health interventions such as early and exclusive breastfeeding.
Recently, the province of Aklan observed World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7. The whole month of August is also being observed in the Philippines as National Breastfeeding Month.
For her part, Crescini Roxas, Provincial Nutrition Coordinator, said that Aklan has sustained activities and programs to encourage and convince would-be mothers to breastfeed their babies.
"Our barangay health workers, nutrition scholars and other health volunteers conduct visitations and orientations in their respective barangays to encourage pregnant mothers to breastfeed their babies right after birth," Roxas said.
As envisioned, Roxas said, some Aklan barangays, due to breastfeeding, registered no low or very low weight records when validated by the Aklan Provincial Nutrition Council.
Last July, Aklan observed Nutrition Month, and the activities conducted by the PHO complemented the breasfeeding advocacy of the province. It focused on the well-being of babies, with the theme "Pagkaing Tapat, Wastong Timbang ni Baby ang Katapat".
There is no studies in the Philippines which shows the number of lactating mothers using manufactured dairy products like milk to nourish their babies.
However, if the lactating mothers who are now feeding their infants with imported milk shift to breastfeeding, the Philippines’ milk and dairy product imports will be greatly reduced. Moreover, the health of the babies will be improved. /MP