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    Celebrating the World Breastfeeding Week 2022

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    By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu

    The world breastfeeding week is celebrated by over 170 countries of the world. The duration for this celebration is from August 1 through August 7 every year. This event is cardinal as captured by the world health body the World Health Organisation this”breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. These over 170 countries will be celebrating the theme” “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet”, which focuses on the role that breastfeeding plays in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    The history of this week-long commemoration dates back to the  90s. Through the instrumentalities of two major works bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Innocenti Declaration to promote and support breastfeeding was created. To ensure the implementation of UNICEF and WHO’s goals, an association was formed called the World Association of Breastfeeding Action in 1992. Subsequently, to be precise in 1992,a whole week was dedicated to promote this campaign.

    Through the instrumentalities of two major works bodies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and  International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Innocenti Declaration to promote and support breastfeeding was created. To ensure the implementation of UNICEF and WHO’s goals, an association was formed called the World Association of Breastfeeding Action in 1992. Subsequently, to be precise in 1992,a whole week was dedicated to promote this campaign.

    The benefits of breastfeeding, which  is also known as nursing, cannot be overemphasized. It is the best way to provide young infants with the essential nutrients required for growth and development. 

    Furthermore, breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean, and acts as the babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.

    Others are: breastfeeding helps boost the immune system of the infant, lowers the infant mortality rate, lowers the risk of developing infections such as respiratory tract infections, diabetes, allergic diseases, and childhood leukaemia. It also helps enhance the cognitive function of the baby. Additionally, breastmilk is extremely nutritious and healthy for the baby and can help the baby develop a healthy weight.”

    The celebration suffered a major set back in the 2020 edition as a result of the Coronavirus, known as “COVID-19” outbreak in When China later the previous year. It will be recalled that the pandemic devastated the entire globe socially and economy, and fallouts of the effect could still be fate today. Alot of misinformation trailed the pandemic over breastfeeding. But fortunately that WHO was able to stem the tide by stating that “transmission of active Covid-19 through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected. And there was no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeng.”

    The world body went further to explain that” a woman with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so by following few precautions. 

    According to WHO, before breastfeeding, a mother should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. In case of unavailability of water, one can use a hand sanitiser with at least 60 per cent alcohol content. Additionally, one should always wear a mask during any contact with the baby, including while feeding.

    There is a strong relationship between the transmission of Human Immuno Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and breastfeeding. Like it is a prominent health rule in the United States, to prevent HIV transmission, HIV-infected mothers should not breastfeed their infants. This is because  HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and compromise it,and is spread through certain body fluids, including breast milk. Mother-to-child transmission can occur during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.

    While experts advice posits that the best way to prevent transmission of HIV to an infant through breast milk is to not breastfeed.

     In developed climes such as the US where mothers have access to clean water and affordable replacement feeding (infant formula), it is recommended that HIV-infected mothers completely avoid breastfeeding their infants, regardless of ART( antiretroviral- therapy) and maternal viral load. Healthcare providers should be aware that some mothers with HIV may experience social or cultural pressure to breastfeed. These mothers may need ongoing feeding guidance and/or emotional support.It will be recalled that the function of anti- retroviral therapy is to reduce the viral load.

    On the other hand, it is recommended that in resource-limited settings, such as some parts of Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that HIV-infected mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life and continue breastfeeding for at least 12 months, with the addition of complementary foods. These mothers should be given ART to reduce the risk of transmission through breastfeeding.

    On this note, breastfeeding is a vital nutrient for child’s growth and development, and it is not much advisable to replace with other forms of feeding.

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