Simple & cost-effective strategies should be top priority of health planners-Inamullah Khan Dharejo

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Dissemination Seminar on early initiation & exclusive Breast Feeding

Simple & cost-effective strategies should be top
priority of health planners-Inamullah Khan Dharejo

KARACHI: People can be saved from many diseases only by promotion of simple and cost-effective strategies especially for breastfeeding, and this should be the top priority of the healthcare planners. Pakistan was the 5th largest milk producer in the World, and 2nd biggest importer of milk powder. This was stated by Mr. Inamullah Dharejo Sindh health secretary while speaking at a Dissemination Seminar on “Saving Lives of Newborn by Early Initiation of Breast Feeding and Exclusive Breast Feeding” organized by Health, Education and Literacy Programme (HELP), in collaboration and SAIFRN (South Asian Infant Feeding Research Network) and Nutrition Cell Baluchistan at a local hotel on August 21st, 2013.
Mr. Dharejo further said that neglected old tradition must be revived and myths regarding breast feeding in society should be cleared. Passage of the breastfeeding ordinance was a major achievement and efforts would be made for its implementation in letter and spirit. He lauded the efforts of HELP for passage of the breastfeeding ordinance and assured early Notification of Infant Feeding Board in the Province. Dr. Ashfaq Memon, DG Health Government of Sindh speaking on the occasion, stressed on the need for capacity building of Health workers and behavior change in the community.
Prof D.S. Akram, Chairperson HELP, shared the project achievements and its goal to contribute towards reducing neonatal deaths by improving nutritional status of newborns. She further explained the key activities involved in achieving the target which includes group meetings with key stakeholders, parliamentarians, religious leaders, head of medical universities and media.
Continuing Prof. D.S. Akram said that Pakistan has high infant mortality (61.27/1000) and most of them are secondary to infections. Colustrum and breast milk prevent infection, therefore early initiation of Breast Feeding within one hour EBF (6 months) and continuity in breast feeding for (2 years) can save 1.3 million children per year and decrease neonatal deaths by 22%. There is no law in provinces to regulate sale of Breast Milk Substitutes and there is little emphasis in medical curricula on optimum infant feeding practices. Bottle feeding is 33% in Pakistan and highest in South Asia. Aim of our project she stated is to influence policy makers for strengthening IYCF and lactation management through training of health care providers at community (LHWs, CMWs) and health facility levels (doctors, LHVs etc.)
Prof. D.S. Akram further stated that Dow University of Health Sciences has included the teaching of protection and promotion of breast feeding in their undergraduate medical curriculum. Health Department of Balouchistan and BMC have included the teaching of Breast feeding and BF Ordinance to undergraduate students. Legislation is being prepared for the law department. In the meantime Parliamentarians have by consensus agreed to Table the Bill in the parliament. Health Department in Baluchistan has agreed to train HCPs at all health facilities in lactation management and IYCF, she added.
During the discussion it was agreed that obstetricians and gynaecologists must be involved in the campaign for advocacy of breast feeding, since doctors were in a better position to tell mothers about the importance of breast feeding. An educational campaign for girls in high schools and an integrated nutrition strategy with active involvement of lady health workers, general physicians and community leaders to change public perception for breast feeding, vaccination and family planning was also suggested.
Dr. Mallick Maroof Imam, Programme Manager HELP discussed the legislation on, “Sindh Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2013”. He also explained about penalties of violating the law. He further elaborated upon the Rules and Regulations incorporated in the Ordinance and procedures outlined for its implementation. The role of the” Infant Feeding Board” was clarified and presented. Their function involves receiving reports on any violation, planning and co-ordination and dissemination of information and educational material and to advise government on policies for protection of Breast Feeding, Infant Young Child Feeding (IYCF).
Earlier Dr. Micheal Dibley, Senior Associate Professor in International Public Health School of Public Health, University of Sydney and International Consultant from SAIFRN gave an audio presentation from Australia on , Research in Infant and Young Child Feeding in South Asia. Dr. Dibley put emphasis on the importance of IYCF that it decreases the risk of illness and death in young children. He also presented cross country comparison on timely initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, full breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Dr. Zainub Pervez, representative from Nutrition Cell (Government of Sindh), Dr. S Hassan Mehdi Zaidi representative from MNCH Programme, Ms Sheher Bano from The News and Qari Sheharyar- religious scholar also spoke on the occasion. Ms. Faiza Shafiq, from HELP welcomed the guests and conducted the meeting.