The World Health Organization (WHO) in Ethiopia celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2022 with the global theme “Intensify Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”

World Breastfeeding Week is commemorated around the world the first week of August to highlight the importance of regular breastfeeding for babies and to encourage and support breastfeeding. The week also marks the anniversary of the Innocenti Declaration – the United Nations declaration on breastfeeding which was made on August 1, 1990. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated annually in 170 countries through different activities , forums and awareness campaigns. This year in Ethiopia, the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and other partners commemorated the day in the town of Debre Berhan, emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding, especially in emergency situations, given the ongoing dynamics in the country.

As part of the commemorative event, participants visited Woinshet camp in Debreberhan, home to over 25,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). At camp, the importance of breastfeeding and the dedication of mothers to breastfeed their babies even in difficult situations was evident, as mothers with young babies were seen breastfeeding their children.

Under this year’s theme, “Intensify Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”Dr Meseret Zelalem, Director of Maternal and Child Health at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, said: “Breastfeeding is the best gift a mother can give her child because breast milk contains the right combination of nutrients. essential for physical and mental development as well as protection. the antibodies a baby needs.”

Over the years, Ethiopia has experienced several natural disasters and man-made emergencies such as drought, floods, locust swarms and conflicts resulting in damage to crops and livestock as well as internal displacement.

Breastfeeding is significantly compromised during such emergencies. Families are forced from their homes and exposed to devastating food insecurity, poor sanitation and disruption of basic services. At such times, the health and lives of infants and children are more at risk from malnutrition and disease outbreaks, as displacement limits the ability of communities to practice appropriate infant and young child feeding and hinders their access to essential health and nutrition services. To address this, WHO worked with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to develop Guidelines for infant and young child feeding in emergencies in Ethiopia. Breastfeeding has been highlighted in the document as one of the actions to ensure the nutrition of young children and infants.

As noted in the WHO and UNICEF joint statement for World Breastfeeding Week 2022, globally, less than half of all newborns are breastfed within the first hour. of their lives, making them more vulnerable to disease and death. And only 44% of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months of life, below the World Health Assembly target of 50% by 2025.

Recognizing the importance of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding for the survival, growth and development of millions of infants, WHO and UNICEF, in the joint statement, called on governments, donors, civil society and the private sector to intensify their efforts to:

  • prioritize investment in policies and programs to support breastfeeding, particularly in contexts of fragility and food insecurity;
  • equip health and nutrition workers in facilities and communities with the skills they need to provide quality counseling and practical support to mothers to successfully breastfeed;
  • protect caregivers and health workers from the unethical commercial influence of the formula industry by adopting and fully implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, including in humanitarian settings; and
  • implement family-friendly policies that provide mothers with the time, space and support they need to breastfeed.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) – Ethiopia.

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