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Breastfeeding week to be observed from August 1-7.

By Noimot Olayiwola Qatar will join other countries around the world to observe World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) from August 1-7 under the theme "Talk to Me! Breastfeeding -- a 3D Experience". The WBW, inaugurated in 1991 by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), has paved the way for hundreds of countries to join together and protect, promote and support breastfeeding in their communities.

The WABA is a global network of individuals and organisations concerned with the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide.

The year's theme deals with communication at various levels and between various sectors.

"When we look at breastfeeding support, we tend to see it in two-dimension: time (from pre-pregnancy to weaning) and place (the home, community, health care system). But neither has much impact without a third dimension -- communication," WABA states on its website.

Communication is an essential part of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as individuals and global communities connect across small and great distances at an instant's notice.

The Qatar National Health Strategy 2011-2016 has called for an increased awareness campaign to promote breastfeeding in the country.

"Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is one of the most critical interventions for child nutrition and survival," the NHS has stated.

However, in Qatar currently, the exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first six months is 12%, which is below the 50% threshold recommended by the United Nations.

The NHS has disclosed that failure to immediately and exclusively breast-feed until age six month annually leads to 1.4mn deaths (12-15% of under five-years-old deaths) and 43.5mn disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs).

Also, Qatar-based lactation consultant and Al Khor Hospital Obstetrics and Gyanecology department's Breastfeeding Medicine Centre director Dr Mohamed Ilyas Khan had disclosed that extensive research continued to show that breastfeeding was the most beneficial method of feeding infants.

"Considerable advances have occurred in recent years in the scientific knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding, the mechanisms underlying these benefits, and in the clinical management of breastfeeding," he had said.

Khan explained that the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychological, social, economic, and environmental benefits.

He said research in developed and developing countries provided strong evidence that human milk feeding decreased the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases including bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infection, necrotising enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants.

In addition, post-neonatal infant mortality rates in the US are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants, he said.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2011

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Jul 30, 2011
Words:432
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