Breast milk power!

06 August 2019 | Columns

Almost two years after Namibian Sun reported on a plan by two medical professionals to establish the country's first breast milk bank, the initiative finally came to fruition yesterday.

The Namibia Breast Milk Bank has been officially opened in Windhoek, which is a significant milestone towards promoting exclusive breastfeeding, which will go a long way to improve infant nutrition. This is one aspect that Namibia has struggled with for many years. In 2017, Namibia was called out for performing dismally on an international scorecard for the recommended standards for breastfeeding. Namibian Sun reported at the time that health facilities in the country do not fully meet the recommended standards for breastfeeding, as stipulated by Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and had therefore scored zero on the then global scorecard.

According to the Global Scorecard on Breastfeeding, 71% of babies born in Namibia are put on the breast within one hour of birth. It further stated that only 49% of babies are exclusively breastfed for the first five months.

It also stated that 64% of these babies continue to breastfeed until they are one year old, while only 21% still breastfeed until they are two years old.

This is despite a rigorous campaign initiated by the health ministry. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and we have to commend the two pioneers behind the Namibia Breast Milk Bank, namely Birgit Mayer and Professor Clarissa Pieper, for spearheading research efforts for the establishment of this excellent initiative.

Breast milk is considered more effective in reducing the risk of disease and infections, compared to instant formula, which according to experts lack essential nutrients.

It is therefore our sincere hope that more of these initiatives will crop up and demonstrate our country's commitment to increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among babies by 2025. This is a necessity if we want healthy babies to grow into healthy teens and adults.

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