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Government touts breastfeeding

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By Sellina Tambula:

The government has said exclusive breastfeeding is one of the solutions to the problem of stunted growth in the country.

Department of Nutrition, HIV and Aids statistics indicate that Malawi has reduced the rate of stunting from 47 percent to 37 percent in 2018, an indication that malnutrition and food deficiency-related challenges continue to plague the country.

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Health Minister, Jappie Mhango, said this when he officially launched World Breastfeeding Week, which is commemorated every first week of August, over the weekend.

Speaking in Phalombe District, where the official launch took place, Mhango acknowledged that more needed to be done to sensitise community members to the importance of breastfeeding to a child’s growth.

“In Malawi, women leave exclusive breastfeeding due to several factors within their environment. It is therefore important that nursing women should have a support system within the community to ensure they breastfeed babies.

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“Among other advantages, breastfeeding improves the nutrition status of babies and also reduces the risk of contracting communicable diseases among babies,” Mhango said.

Nutrition Donors Group Chairperson, Grace Omondi, hailed the government for putting in place mechanisms that advance the cause of good nutrition.

“We are talking of its decision to include nutrition outcomes within the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy key priority areas, recognising it as a cross-cutting development area and increasing budget allocation to nutrition over the past three years.

“However, budgetary allocations are still wanting. They are below the costed amounts, with a gap of up to 60 percent based on the 2018/19 budget analysis,” Omondi said.

This year’s Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated under the theme ‘Empowering Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’.

Mhango also toured Phalombe District Hospital, where construction works are at 60 percent.

It is set for completion by March 2020.

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