World Celebrates 20 Years of World Breastfeeding Week;

Minister De Weever Calls for Renewed Commitment

St.Maarten has joined with the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in celebrating the annual Breastfeeding Awareness Week that kicked off 1 August to 7 August.  World Breastfeeding Week celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, which was started back in 1992 by WABA.  

A number of stakeholders have come together to extend the week to one month of information sharing and awareness about how important it is to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Stakeholders are Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labour Hon. Cornelius de Weever and his ministry, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) nurses, SIFMA and the Lisaflor Maternity Center.

The 2012 theme is “Understanding the Past – Planning for the Future.”  The theme focus on the progress that has been made on the implementation of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, which was adopted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) Children’s Fund (UNICEF) 10-years ago.

Implementing the Global Strategy effectively is essential to increase breastfeeding rates: in particular exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.

Exclusive breastfeeding should start within the first hour of life.

Minister of Public Health, Social Development & Labour Hon. Cornelius De Weever appeals to mothers to breastfeed their newborns.

“Breastfeeding is the single most effective intervention for preventing deaths among children under five.  Research shows that about 20 per cent of neonatal (under-one-month of age) deaths could be prevented if all newborns began breastfeeding during the first hour of life.

“In addition, children who are breastfed for seven to nine months have on average six-point higher IQ than children who are breastfed for less than a month.  Breastfeeding also helps mothers lose weight and reduces their risk of breast and ovarian cancer as well as type-2 diabetes.

“I would like to thank all the retired nurses of the former Public Health Department and the St. Rose/SMMC as well as all current and future nursing staff at both institutions, to continue the great work of encouraging breastfeeding and promoting prevention,” Minister De Weever said on Sunday.

According to a UNICEF report in 2012, in the developing world, progress in exclusive breastfeeding has been modest, improving from 32 per cent around 1995 to 39 per cent around 2012, a relative increase of about 17 per cent.

Prevalence has increased to all regions with available trend data except the Middle East and North Africa, and many countries have achieved substantial improvements.  The Central and Eastern Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States region has made particular noteworthy progress.