A month-long breastfeeding awareness campaign has been inaugurated by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health ministry which will be carried out in 18 districts across the province. Also, drives will be conducted in Kurram and South Waziristan agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
Desired objectives will not be achieved until a large-scale awareness campaign is carried out said K-P Health Services Director General Pervez Kamal, speaking at the inauguration ceremony held at the health directorate. "The people should be informed how important breastfeeding is for the new-born."
Lady Health Workers and those from Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Programme should be involved in the process so that they can educate mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding, he said. They can easily spread the word, as they carry out door-to-door visits.
"We have the workforce but we are not using it efficiently," added Kamal. Women should be provided with separate space at workplaces where they can feed their children, he suggested.
Places should also be allocated at hospitals where both the nursing staff and visitors can feed their children, said Dr Shaheen Afridi, public health deputy director. She also suggested that the government ban doctors from advising mothers on using formula milk so that the infants can be breastfed for at least the first two years. Legislation will soon be carried out in this regard, said Dr Qaisar, nutrition and reproductive health deputy director.
To make the campaign a success the speakers urged clerics, health employees and local pediatricians to participate. Representatives of World Health Organization, Unicef and World Food Programme were also present on the occasion.
In K-P approximately 48% of the children are stunted whereas the rates increase to 58% in tribal areas. Around 24% of the children in K-P and 14% in the tribal areas are underweight. Only 38% of the infants are breastfed in the province, according to a national survey.