Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Uganda: 4000 Die Daily Due to Lack of Breastfeeding

The Monitor (Kampala)
September 4, 2006

At least 4000 infants and young children die everyday in Uganda due to
lack of breastfeeding. This was disclosed by the Health Minister in
charge of General Duties, Dr Richard Nduhura in Gulu on Tuesday.

Nduhura was addressing a rally to mark the World Breastfeeding Week.

"Everyday, as many as 4000 infants and young children die because they
are not breastfed. Why should this continue?" Asked Nduhura.

He said the trend could be reversed if mothers are empowered with
enough knowledge about breastfeeding and are continuously motivated
and supported to breastfeed the children.

The minister blamed the increasingly poor breastfeeding culture in the
country on aggressive advertising for bottle feeding, where marketing
gimmicks and slogans are used to discredit breastfeeding.

"Those advertisers claim breastfeeding is best but bottle feeding is
almost as good as breastfeeding," Nduhura said.

He said they use striking images of well breastfed babies to persuade
mothers to buy their feeding bottles, yet they are putting the next
generation in danger.

According to a recent World Health Organisation report, babies who do
not breastfeed are six times more likely to die from diarrhoea or
respiratory infections.

The report said HIV positive mothers have to make the hard decision of
whether or not to breastfed their babies.

"For HIV positive mothers, the decision whether or not to breastfeed a
child can be difficult, because studies show that babies, who
breastfeed from HIV positive mothers, have a 5 to 20 per cent chance
of getting infected," the report said.

Nduhura, however, said health workers worldwide have realised the
fatal consequences of bottle-feeding. The theme of this year's World
Breastfeeding Week was 'Regulating the Marketing of Infant Foods.'

Gulu LC5 Chairman Norbert Mao promised to visit radio stations in the
district and stop advertisements of "junk bottle and other infant food
items." He called on husbands to support their wives in breastfeeding
their infants.


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