The North West Department of Health MEC Madoda Sambatha has echoed the call by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for workplaces to ensure adequate breastfeeding facilities and become breastfeeding-friendly.
This is as the Department marks World Breastfeeding Week (1 â€“ 7 August 2023) under the theme â€œEnabling breastfeeding and making a difference for working parentsâ€.
MEC Sambatha has recognized that workplace challenges often are one of the most common contributory factors for women to stop breastfeeding their babies sooner than recommended and has called on corporates to become breastfeeding friendly.
â€œIf South Africa is to reach the 2025 United Nations (UN) target of an exclusive breastfeeding rate of fifty percent (50%) for the first six months of an infantâ€™s life, we need to empower and support women who breastfeed in our organisations, MEC Sambatha said.â€ â€œSome of the challenges faced by breastfeeding mothers returning to work include a lack of time to breastfeed their babies. With hectic work schedules, it can be difficult for mothers to find the time to breastfeed regularly. Another challenge working mums face is that some workplaces do not have proper nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers due to various reasons,â€ he continued.
This according to MEC Sambatha is part of the reasons given by working mothers who have opted to discontinue breastfeeding exclusively and have resorted to alternative methods such as formula feeding or introducing infants to solids much earlier than the recommended age.
â€œHaving unsupportive managers is another challenge that working mums who breastfeed face. Even if the workplace has facilities that can accommodate working mothers, many companies have not implemented accommodative practices for their breastfeeding employees, MEC Sambatha pointed out.
MEC Sambatha has used the world commemorations of Breastfeeding Week to remind mothers of the benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and infants.
â€œBreast milk is uniquely tailored to meet the nutritional needs of infants, providing essential nutrients, antibodies, and hormones that promote healthy growth and development. It offers protection against various illnesses, such as respiratory infections, gastrointestinal issues, and allergies. It further nurtures a deep emotional bond between the mother and child, promoting security, comfort, and closenessâ€ he said.
Health professionals recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. No other food or liquid is needed during this period. Continued breastfeeding for two years or longer with the introduction of appropriate complementary foods is also ideal.
MEC Sambatha emphasized the crucial function performed by the Province's four districts' Breast Milk Bank Facilities as well as the importance of donor breast milk (DBM) and nursing in lowering infant mortality and morbidity at the beginning of the human development chain, with a special emphasis on premature neonates. Currently, the North West province has Breast Milk Bank facilities hosted in public hospitals across all four districts. They operate from Potchefstroom, Mahikeng Provincial, Joe Morolong Memorial, and Job Shimankana Tabane hospitals respectively.
Tebogo Lekgethwane Departmental Spokesperson 0674227763
-END- ISSUED BY THE NORTH WEST DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH