KZN Health MEC encourages breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has been proven to not only provide short term health outcomes but long term as well

KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo has encouraged mothers in the province to breastfeed their children as long as possible in order to increase health benefits for both mother and child.

‘Breastfeeding has been proven to not only provide short term health benefits such as protection from diarrhoea, respiratory infections, malnutrition and infant mortality, but improved intelligence and the prevention of diabetes and obesity in the long term as well.

‘Breastfeeding mothers also benefit from the practice because it can help them lose the pregnancy weight and decrease their risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer,’ said Dhlomo.

In commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week, which was from August 1 to 7, MEC Dhlomo highlighted that mothers who are unable to breastfeed are assisted through the 13 Human Breastmilk Banks across KZN.

‘These have been established at facilities across eight districts to assist premature infants who are generally deprived of breastmilk owing to factors such as maternal deaths during birth as well as mothers being too ill to lactate,’ Dhlomo said.

One of the province’s biggest milk banks is situated at the Lower Umfolozi War Memorial Regional Hospital in Empangeni. The milk bank was launched in October 2015.

‘As a Mother Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) accredited institution, we are working tirelessly to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and beyond. We also offer a Human Breastmilk Bank on site through our

Dietetics department and MBFI nurse,’ Lower uMfolozi War Memorial Regional Hospital PRO Khethiwe Dlamini said.

The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) recently revealed that ‘a third of South African children under six months old are now exclusively breastfed. This represents a nearly five-fold increase over the last 20 years.’

SABR reported that in 1998 the South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) found that just 7% of infants under the age of six months were exclusively breastfed. The latest edition of the survey found that the proportion had increased to 32% by 2016.

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  AUTHOR
Gugu Myeni

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