Bringing down infant mortality rate begins at breastfeeding

Title: Bringing down infant mortality rate begins at breastfeeding.


Cebu, Philippines (27 December) – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo recently lauded the nutrition industry for helping bring down infant mortality rate from 40 per 1000 live births to 32 per 1000 live births as reported by the Millennium Development Goals monitor. “Congratulations to all of you involved in child nutrition,” the President added as she stressed the importance of the various hunger mitigation programs that include nutrition service projects for the young children from birth to age six and these are incorporated in the Early Childhood Care and Development system.  Speaking before medical directors and chiefs of hospitals during the orientation on infant and young child feeding strategy at the Manila Hotel recently, Arroyo further said that one of her goals is to improve infant and child survival rates by ensuring that adequate health and nutrition programs are accessible to the young children and their mothers.  The orientation was called “The Breastfeeding Highway Begins at the Hospital.” It highlighted the government’s national policies and programs relative to infant and young child feeding, latest scientific evidences on breastfeeding and the implementation of the “Mother-Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.” In the same briefing, Hospital Chiefs all over the country also signed the Manila Declaration on the Promotion of Infant and Child Feeding Strategy in
Hospitals; Mother-Baby-Friendly Hospital Status; implementing the Roomingin and Breastfeeding Act (RA 7600) and the Milk Code (EO 51).
In the executive summary of the National Plan of Action on Infant and n the executive summary of the National Plan of Action on Infant and Young Child Feeding-Philippines (2005-2010) it states that the country is one of the 42 countries that account for 90% of global deaths among under-5 infant and young child.  In 2006, according to the summary, 82,000 Filipino children under-five years old died. About 16,000 of these deaths could have been prevented with exclusive breastfeeding for the six months, appropriate complementary feeding at six months and continued breastfeeding to at least two years. To encourage and reverse the disturbing trends in infant and young child feeding practices, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) jointly endorsed a “Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding” and this was endorsed by consensus during the 55th World Health Assembly in May 2002 and the UNICEF Executive Board in September 2002.  This was adopted by the Philippines and came up with its own national strategic plan of action for Infant and Young Child Feeding.  The recent gathering of the country’s chiefs of hospitals and health practitioners showed their resolve to fully implement the government’s programs and initiatives on reducing infant mortality rate, and it must start from breastfeeding.  The Manila Declaration among other things wants to monitor closely the implementation and compliance of the Phil. Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (EO 51); Rooming-In and Breastfeeding Act of 1992 that include the Mother-Baby Friendly Hospital Initiatives; ASIN Law (RA8172); Food Fortification Law (RA 8976) that include Micro-Nutrient Supplementation;
ECCD or RA 8980 that includes an Integrated Management on Childhood Illness.  National communication and information campaigns on breastfeeding promotion; nutrition information and education program and training programs for infant and young child feeding were also among the special programs that would help in lowering infant mortality rate in the country.



Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of The Federation of Antenatal Educators (FEDANT) unless specifically stated.

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