Ministry health

The Ministry of Health officially launches World Breastfeeding Week 2022

Government institutions will soon be required to set up lactation rooms for mothers.

Chief Administrative Secretary for Health Mercy Mwangangi has revealed that the regulation and control of breastmilk substitutes which came into force on May 30, 2022 will require employers to provide nursing stations for nursing mothers.

CAS was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of National World Breastfeeding Week under the theme Step Up Breastfeeding. She said enforcement of the regulations will curb the continued violation of breastfeeding guidelines and protect the warm chain of breastfeeding support.

“All relevant government agencies, county health departments, workplaces and communities will be mobilized to provide and maintain breastfeeding friendly environments for the benefit of families, even as we continue to fight Covid 19 “, she said.

In a speech read on behalf of Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Mwangangi hailed the gains made in increasing the percentage of exclusively breastfed children in the country, pledging to increase the number from the current 61%.

She revealed that a National Infant and Young Child Feeding Committee would soon be unveiled by the Office of the Cabinet Secretary on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition.

“I take note that we are marking this important activity before unveiling the National Committee on Infant and Young Child Feeding. I am, however, pleased that the appointment of the members of this committee is complete and we will reveal it in due course,” she said.

During the celebrations, the Ministry of Health pledged to focus on waking up hot chain actors by building their capacity through education and empowerment.

EXPLANATOR

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual event supported by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in 170 countries including Kenya.

Celebrations which have resumed after a Covid hiatus take place in the first week of August but have been brought forward due to the upcoming general election.

Since 2016, the WBW Campaign has been aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Breastfeeding is a cornerstone of child survival, nutrition and early childhood development and is therefore essential to achieving most of the SDGs.

Breastfeeding is also an important intervention in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic due to its significant contribution to improving nutrition and food security and reducing inequalities.

This year’s theme highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reducing inequalities.

This year’s celebration also focuses its attention on the Warm Chain Campaign which places the mother-baby couple at the center and strives to link the various actors by coordinating efforts at all levels to ensure a continuum of care during the first 1000 days.

Key actors in the chain include health systems, workplace and community support.

“We can support the Warm Channel by recognizing existing and potential players and the role of existing initiatives such as the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, Baby Friendly Communities Initiative and Workplace Support for Breastfeeding Mothers “, noted Mwangangi.

This sustenance can benefit from consistent messaging targeted to stakeholders and establishing referrals and linkages throughout the hot chain.

This as well as empowering all mothers for an effective breastfeeding experience.

Over the past decade, Kenya has achieved sustained development in improving the status of breastfeeding by improving policies, guidelines and legislative frameworks that ensure basic nutrition for every child in accordance with the Constitution of the Kenya, 2010.

This has contributed to a significant increase in the proportion of children who are exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months, from 32% in 2008 to 61% in 2014, as demonstrated by Kenya’s Demographic and Health Surveys.

The improvement was attributed to the establishment of a legal framework that promotes breastfeeding.

Laws and regulations include; Breastmilk Substitutes (Regulation and Control) Act 2012, Breastmilk Substitutes (Regulation and Control) Legal Notice No 184 (General Regulations) 2021, Health Act 2017, which contains provisions for workplace breastfeeding support; and the Employment Act 2007 which provides for maternity protection.