September 15 to 19: World Breastfeeding Week:
More mums breastfeed in Lanka
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has achieved a 50 per cent increase in the number
of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies during the first six
months of life, UNICEF said yesterday as Sri Lanka launched World
A range of Government health initiatives, led by the Health Ministry
and supported by UNICEF, have seen the country's rate of 'exclusive
breastfeeding' increase from 50 per cent to 75 per cent from 2000 to
2007. The result is fewer infant deaths, and healthier babies.
"In a developing country, a child who is breastfed is almost three
times more likely to survive infancy than a child who is not breastfed"
said UNICEF's Nutrition project officer, Dr. Renuka Jayatissa. "We will
continue to support the Government in revitalising Baby Friendly
Hospitals (BFHs) and roll out trainings so as to ensure further
Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in Sri Lanka September 15-19,
UNICEF, along with the World Alliance
for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and the World Health Organization
(WHO), is recommending the provision of increased professional and
informal support for breastfeeding mothers.
For Sri Lanka this means maintaining and expanding current
activities. This will occur through a continuation of trainings,
advocacy, capacity building, and support to the country's Baby Friendly
To this end, UNICEF has just completed a training on infant and young
child feeding for health workers, and has another planned for October.
Additional trainings will then spread into the district.
"These trainings are vital," said the community physician from the
Family Health Bureau, Dr. Dhammika Rowell. "Exclusive breastfeeding for
the first six months of life saves lives.
It can reduce the number of deaths caused by acute respiratory
infection and diarrhoea, and builds a bond between the mother and
UNICEF said recent scientific studies have found that education and
support for mothers significantly extends the number of months that
mothers breastfeed, and is especially helpful in promoting exclusive
Although there has been progress in the developing world over the
past 15 years, only 38 per cent of infants under six months of age are
breastfed. This compares poorly with Sri Lanka's 75 per cent.
The aim of World Breastfeeding Week is to promote exclusive
breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous
health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly
diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and fostering growth and