The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), in co-operation with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) and Sidra Medicine, will celebrate World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7, under the slogan ‘Step up for Breastfeeding - Educate and Support’.
The celebration comes within the framework of the MoPH’s efforts to implement 'Healthy Children and Adolescents' plans to increase breastfeeding rates.
The celebration aims to educate community members about the importance of their support for breastfeeding, encourage mothers to make the decision to breastfeed as a smart choice for the health of the child, and focus on the importance of introducing complementary foods at the age of six months while continuing breastfeeding, in addition to focus on the side effects of formula milk.
The awareness campaign by MoPH and its partners in co-operation with all hospitals in Qatar includes broadcasting videos on complementary feeding of babies from six months, in addition to supporting breastfeeding on visual media and social media platforms.
During the campaign educational materials will be distributed to mothers’ rooms after delivery in all hospitals, as well as nursing mothers in healthy baby clinics in health centres at PHCC, obstetrics departments, outpatient clinics, neonatal intensive care units at the Women’s Health and Research Centre, and hospitals Al-Wakra, Al-Kobi and Al-Khor.
Marking the World Breastfeeding Week, MoPH, in co-operation with Sidra Medicine, is organising two discussion sessions on misconceptions about breastfeeding and newborn health, during the Maternal & Child Health Forum on August 2 (tomorrow) and 3, during which questions will be received and participants’ inquiries will be answered by Sidra Medicine specialists. Additionally, there will be a live streaming on social media for a breastfeeding specialist from PHCC.
Dr Salah al-Yafei, acting manager of Health Promotion and Non-communicable Diseases at MoPH said: “The Ministry, in cooperation with its partners in the health sector, continues to work towards enhancing society’s awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, as breast milk is one of the most important sources of energy, nutrients and immunity enhancement for children. It is recommended to start breastfeeding the child during the first hours of birth to help the newborn to build his/ her immune system.”
Dr Salah al-Yafei added: "The pertinent international organisations also recommend the adoption of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of a child's life, followed by continuous breastfeeding with appropriate complementary food until the child reaches two years or more, as a strong line of defence against all forms of childhood malnutrition, including weight loss, obesity and many infectious diseases, as well as strengthening the relationship between mother and child”
Dr Sadria al-Kuhji, senior health officer, Healthy Children and Adolescents at MoPH’s National Health Strategy and Assistant Medical Director for Child and Adolescent Health at PHCC, said: "MoPH through the National Health Strategy is working to achieve the national goal of increasing the level of exclusive breastfeeding over the first six months of the infant's life, where breastfeeding is the first vaccine for children and helps protect them from many common childhood diseases.”
"The health sector in Qatar is contributing significantly to the development of the breastfeeding initiative at various levels and making great efforts to provide the best levels of care service, such as Baby-friendly hospitals or the Community Health Programme," noted, Hila Sweid Salem, executive director of nursing at Centre for Women's Health and Research, HMC.
Fetna Saeed al-Nuaimi, national co-ordinator of the Baby-Friendly Hospitals Initiative at the MoPH explained added that breastfeeding is one of the key factors for enhancing the ability of newborns to improve their health, as breastfeeding promotes children's health and body growth and has a significant impact on maternal health.