State minister of Health (General Duties) Sarah Achieng Opendi has reechoed her recent position on Ugandan men who struggle for breast milk with their babies. While hosting a live tweet chat on Thursday, minister Opendi once again warned ‘breastfeeding’ men and advised them to look for other foods and drinks elsewhere and leave breast milk for babies.
“Research has been done and mothers told us that fathers struggle to breast milk with their babies. This is bad. Men should leave breast milk for babies. They should eat or drink other things,” Opendi said.
She also warned young mothers who shun breastfeeding in order to keep their body especially breasts firm.
“For young girls who think that their breasts will sag because of breastfeeding should stop that mentality. Those breasts were created for that purpose, not for pleasure. Breastfeeding is the foundation of life,” Opendi said.
Government through ministry of Health has been commemorating World Breastfeeding Week that runs from August 01 to 07 since 1991. In her message for this year’s breastfeeding week, Opendi urged mothers to ensure that their children are well fed in the first 2years which includes exclusive breastfeeding for 6months in a bid to reduce on malnutrition in this country.
“We recommend exclusive breastfeeding, but if this breast milk is to be stored then it should be put in the refrigerator and ensure proper hygiene,” Opendi said.
She commended Parliament for installing babies’ feeding facility for the staff and MPs and urged other organizations also to provide such breast feeding facilities. She added that Government is going to prioritize funding to facilitate district hospitals to have focal persons in the maternal health care sections.
“The health extension workers will be trained on maternal health related cases such as ensuring that mothers go for antenatal care, immunization and others. They (extension workers) will not be paid but they will be facilitated to help them do their work,” she said.
She also advised HIV positive mothers not to shun breastfeeding saying that there is no risk.
“But if babies are tested and are negative then they are encouraged to stop breastfeeding. But if the mother is positive and the baby is also positive then the mother is advised to continue breastfeeding the baby for up to 2years,” Opendi said.
“We need to ensure that we should not have less than 90% of women delivering at health centres. This can be best promoted by the village health teams (VHTs) and if we support the VHTs, we can go a long way in curbing malnutrition.”
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), breast milk is the ideal food for newborns and infants, providing all the nutrients they need for healthy development, including antibodies that help protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia, the two primary causes of child mortality worldwide. Statistics show that only about 36% of infants aged 0-6 months worldwide were exclusively breastfed over the period of 2007-2014. The lives of over 820,000 children could be saved every year among children under 5 years, if all children 0-23 months were optimally breastfed.