Tajikistan celebrates Breastfeeding Week




August 2,2010 - Mehrangez Tursunzoda



Breastfeeding Week started in Tajikistan on August 1 with the theme “Breast Milk – My World.”


Ms. Hongwei Gao, UNICEF Country Representative in Tajikistan, told reporters in Dushanbe on August 2 that the main objective of the event is in supporting and popularizing a successful breastfeeding practice organized by obstetrical facilities and organizations propagating breastfeeding.


According to her, a very high infant morality rates has been reported in Tajikistan – 54 deaths per 1000 live births.  “200,000 babies are born in Tajikistan per year and 10,000 of them die.  It is the great tragedy not only for these families, it is also the great tragedy for the whole country,” Ms. Hongwei Gao stressed.


During the news conference it was noted that 47 maternity houses and maternity departments in Tajikistan, including 20 in Khatlon province, 17 in Sughd province, 6 in districts subordinate to the center and 4 in Dushanbe, have received the baby-friendly certificates.


This year, World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in more than 170 countries worldwide will be celebrating World Breastfeeding Week for the 19th year with the theme “Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps.  The Baby-Friendly Way.”


According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), research shows that the best feeding option globally is the initiation of breastfeeding within the first half hour of life, exclusive breastfeeding for a full six months and continued breastfeeding through the second year or beyond. Breastfeeding improves short and long term maternal and child health; and thus contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4: Reduce Child Mortality and 5 Improve Maternal Health, to which many countries and agencies are committed.


UNICEF recently noted that the reduction of child deaths from 13 million globally in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008 is partly due to the adoption of basic health interventions such as early and exclusive breastfeeding.


Today, an estimated 28% of all maternity facilities in the world have at some point implemented the Ten Steps[,] which has contributed to an encouraging increase in breastfeeding rates despite aggressive commercial promotion of infant formula and feeding bottles. However this is a far cry from the original goal of all maternity facilities practicing the Ten Steps by 1995 as stated in the Innocenti Declaration (1990) on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding which had outlined what countries should do to support breastfeeding.


Editors Note:  More than half of infant deaths are from water related illness such as diarrhea.  In countries where water is not considered sanitary or often carries pathogenic bacteria or viruses, an infant’s weak immune system often cannot fight an infection.  Many mothers prefer to provide their child with formula and will return to work and allow older siblings to care for infants using formula.  In Tajikistan, this most likely accounts for nearly half of all infant deaths and can be easily avoided by exclusive breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding also provides immune system boosters for infants through antibodies and antibody serum gifted through a mother’s immune system.  Many diseases present in the water of Tajikistan can therefore be avoided through proper breastfeeding practices.