Campaign implemented to highlight breastfeeding

TEHRAN – A campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of breastfeeding has been implemented across the country.

The campaign called “Let's go around her like a butterfly”, was carried out in 400 hospitals and 100 midwifery centers in 22 provinces of the country, IRNA reported on Monday.

World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated from 1 to 7 August every year. Breastfeeding acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.

While there has been some progress in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades – with a 50 percent increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally – the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of those gains.

Iran first in West Asia

Iran ranks first in West Asia for breastfeeding of immature newborn infants, as 11 breast milk banks have been established in the country, the head of the mother’s milk bank of Al-Zahra Hospital in the northwestern city of Tabriz said in August 2020.

Breast milk donation is as important as blood donation due to saving the lives of so many premature babies in hospitals whose best nutrition is breast milk, Mohammad-Baqer Hosseini said.

In July 2016, the first breast milk bank was established in Al-Zahra Hospital of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, with the financial support of the Ministry of Health.

Since then, 10 breast milk banks have been set up in the country, two of which are located in Tehran, and others in Mashhad, Zahedan, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Kerman, Tabriz, and Yazd are active and one is being launched in Isfahan.

Recalling that breast milk banks are widely active all over the world, Hosseini said that milk banks have been active in European countries for nearly 100 years.

Worldwide, about 600 breast milk banks have been established, with the first established in Austria, he noted, adding that there are currently 210 breast milk banks in Europe and Brazil alone has 210 milk banks.

Human milk is pasteurized so that there is no risk of transmitting infectious diseases, even in the case of AIDS or any other diseases, he said.

UNICEF commends Iran

Robin Nandy, the representative of UNICEF in Iran, has said that granting 9 months of maternity leave to mothers in Iran is admirable, praising the country for promoting breastfeeding.

Nandy made the remarks at the ceremony of "World Breastfeeding Week" at Razi International Conference Hall held on Monday.

During the coronavirus pandemic, breastfeeding infants has ensured food security, improved nutrition in communities, and reduced inequalities, he highlighted.

Pointing out that every dollar invested in breastfeeding has a return of $35, he noted that in addition to preventing many diseases in children and mothers, breast milk is one of the smartest investments to improve human capital and accelerate economic growth in societies.

Stating that only 44 percent of babies in the world are exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months of life, he said that breastmilk acts like a child’s first vaccine.

Breastfeeding rates in societies with deep gaps between income groups are lower, he further stated.

Appreciating Iran for promoting breast milk, he said that it is necessary to implement family-oriented policies in countries with at least 18 weeks of leave after childbirth to promote and strengthen breastfeeding.

Iran's decision for granting 9 months of maternity leave to mothers is admirable and UNICEF supports these policies, he highlighted.


Source: Tehran Times