First Lady Launches Infant Feeding Campaign

First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo has launched a new campaign to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good nutrition for young children in Ghana.

The year-long “Start Right, Feed Right – from birth to two years” campaign also seeks to address the issues of stunting, wasting and unnecessary deaths among infants.

The project, to be rolled out in all 16 regions, will use community mobilization tools, skilled nutrition counselling support, and advocacy actions to galvanize momentum to improve breastfeeding and complementary feeding of infants and young children.

It will also provide support to health centres to develop breastfeeding friendly facilities as a model for supporting women to nurse and provide optimal newborn care.

Mrs Akufo-Addo said children who are breastfed exclusively in the first six months of their lives and are provided with foods with the right balance of nutrients from six months to two years are more likely to survive, to do better at school and to be more productive throughout their lives.

She, however, noted that the exclusive breastfeeding rate is reducing as over 20 percent of children are given water in the first six months of their lives and only half the number of newborns are put to the breast within the first hour of life.

“We need to improve the current support systems available for women and create conducive environments for women to breast feed in their various workplaces, markets, homes, communities and social gatherings,” she urged.

UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, described the launch of the campaign as “an exciting opportunity to mobilize all key actors at the national and regional levels”.

He called on the public and private sector to expand paid maternity/family leave and to increase the number of workplace breastfeeding facilities for all mothers working in the formal and informal sectors.

Mr. Abani also called for the enforcement of national legislation and restrictions on the aggressive marketing of products that undermine breastfeeding.

Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Mensah stated, “We shall continue to support the Ghana Health Service, the Food and Drugs Authority and other relevant agencies to build the needed capacity to enforce the regulation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and our own legislative instrument, LI 1667 with the aim of protecting the public from harmful commercial interests.”

The Campaign which was rolled out as part of the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week is supported by United Nations Agencies including UNICEF and World Health Organization, World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization and other partners.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri