Health Ministry, WHO and UNICEF hold symposium on breastfeeding in the workplace

Damascus, SANA – Ministry of Health in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) organized on Thursday a symposium on breastfeeding in the workplace.

Discussions tackled ways to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, especially in times of war and crisis, to maintain the child’s health and enhance his/her immunity against diseases.

Director of Health Care Department at the Ministry of Health, Ahmad al-Abboud, called for more cooperation among all the parties concerned in Syria to encourage breastfeeding being one of the most effective means in fighting poverty and hunger through providing infants with long-lasting and safe food, noting that safe practices of breastfeeding decrease child mortality rate by 13 %.

In a lecture about the nutrition situation in Syria, al-Abboud referred to a recent rise in the indicators of emaciation, underweight and dwarfism among children under five as a result of the current crisis.

He, however, reviewed the measures taken by the Ministry towards promoting breastfeeding that include holding educational sessions and a wide range of relevant activities, including at the makeshift centers that host families displaced due to terrorist activities.

He cited 40 health education sessions that have been held during August and targeted 2000 women of childbearing age.

For his part, Mahmoud Bouzo, a nutrition expert at the WHO, highlighted the organization’s role alongside the Health Ministry and other parties in Syria in support of the national breastfeeding programs, baby-friendly hospitals and the training and consulting programs.

The organization’s measures include those carried out to the effect of controlling the advertising and promotion of mother’s milk alternatives, in addition to distributing vitamins to mothers to boost their health and breastfeeding abilities.

Sahar Idelbi of the UNICEF noted in her lecture that 60 % of working mothers who give birth to children worldwide suffer from inability of breastfeeding after returning back from work, whereas only 10 % of working mothers are able to provide infants with enough breastfeeding for the first six months.

She called for providing mothers with the favorable conditions in the workplace in order to provide babies with the proper nutrition.

The symposium coincides with the World Breastfeeding Week, which is marked by countries around the world between August 1st and 7th every year.

Qabas/H. Said