Sunyani, Feb. 05, GNA – Naturally, breast milk builds and helps develop the mental faculties of babies that enable them to think right.
Koomson was introduced to varieties of food supplements and sugared foods in his infant stages, because his mother (Amina) not her real name, was a promising legal practitioner who had no time to breast feed him.
Because he was left in the hands of a house maid, Koomson was denied the required nutrients in the breast milk during his formative years.
His mother will not border to breastfeed him, because as a single parent, Amina, an industrious woman, was determined to provide a brighter and well secured future for her son.
Koomson looked very healthy at age three, and his strong body make-ups motivates his mother much to add on more food supplements at the expense of breast milk.
It was until Koomson gained admission to crèche that his unsuspecting mother realized she had done her only child worse than good.
Because he was denied breast milk in his formative years, Koomson, 15, has grown in obesity and he is unable to think right or take decisions.
Currently, Koomson is a class six pupil at one of the ‘special schools’, while his mother, a renowned legal luminary, has regretted her action, but there is no way she can change the hands of time.
Childhood sets us up for adulthood. As a child grows, they form the ideas and habits that will serve them as an adult.
This makes good nutrition and balanced diet prerequisite to build one’s immune systems and enhance proper growth and development of children.
Data on infant nutrition in Ghana, shows decreasing breastfeeding rates, inadequate meal frequency and diet diversity, and increasing wasting among children younger below five years.
In Ghana, early initiation of breastfeeding hovers around 50 percent while exclusive breastfeeding at six months is 43 per cent (GHS).
‘Start right-feed right campaign’
Breast feeding during childhood sets the tone and patterns for lifelong health and wellness, but exclusive breast feeding allows children to reach full growth potential, perform well in school and maintain their energy levels.
Currently in Ghana, only one child in every two (52 percent) is put to the breast within the first hour of life and the rate of exclusive breastfeeding of children less than six months is reducing, as over 20 percent of children are given water in the first six months of their lives.
The consequences of fewer babies receiving breast milk and a poor nutrition diet means that more children are at risk of experiencing stunting, and the rate of wasting (seven percent) is on the increase across Ghana’s regions.
Many thanks to the United Nations Agencies – UNICEF, WHO, FAO, and WFP and other partners which are supporting the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to implement the ‘Start right-feed right campaign’.
Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady, launched the national campaign which targets children from birth to two years in August 2020.
It seeks to improve exclusive breastfeeding and promote good nutrition for young children and further seeks to address the issues of stunting, wasting and unnecessary deaths.
The Bono and Bono East Regional Directorates of the GHS have launched the campaigns separately, to rally societal support and achieve desirable results.
Dr Mrs Paulina Appiah, the Bono East Deputy Regional Director in-charge of Public Health, noted exclusive breast feeding, helped protect infants from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia, which she said were the two primary causes of child mortality in the country.
“It is also beneficial for the mother as it is associated with reduced risks of breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and postpartum depression,” she said.
She emphasized that concerted efforts were required to make the campaign achieve desirable outcomes, and called on traditional authorities, media, assembly members, civil society actors and organizations to play their part as well.
According to Dr John Ekow Otoo, the Bono Regional Deputy Director, Public Health, feeding babies below six months with breast milk devoid of water and food supplements protect children from illnesses and avoidable deaths.
He indicated that stunting and anemia among children had become a national problem, regretting that currently only 43 percent of babies born in the Region were being breastfed.
Dr said it was unfortunate nursing mothers provided their babies with food supplements, instead of taking them through exclusive breastfeeding, which was naturally essential to the proper growth and development that enhanced the well-being of children.
Babies and infants require breast milk to enable them to grow to become healthy, free from sickness, and, certainly, without any growth issues.
Exclusive breastfeeding is important for babies to grow appropriately, and live a healthful life because studies linked breast feeding to better school performance, being physically active, and, eventually, a healthy adulthood.
Since it helps protect infants from common childhood illnesses, and help reduce child mortality, this reporter believes the nation requires a legal framework or policy guideline that will promote exclusive breastfeeding and save innocent children from avoidable deaths.
In his divine wisdom, God has provided the required nutrients in the breast milk, and denying babies and infants breastfeeding is a worst form of human right abuse and disregarding mothers must not go unpunished.