URR observes World Breast-feeding Week
In their drive to promote optimal infant and young child-feeding, the Gambia National Nutrition Agency (NaNA), in collaboration with the Regional Health Team in Upper River Region (URR) with support from UNICEF recently celebrated World Breast-feeding Week at Nyakoi Taibatou Village in the URR.
This year’s theme was “Breastfeeding: A winning goal-for-life”. The theme highlights the significance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and how they relate to breast-feeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) in general.
It also highlighsts the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection, promotion and support of breast-feeding for achieving the MDGs and improving child survival and nutrition in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
The MDGs were set to fight poverty and promote healthy and sustainable development by 2015.
Speaking at the celebration, Alieu Kujabi, a senior programme officer at the NaNA underscored the significance of the celebration, which he said, is celebrated from 1st to 7th August every year. The Gambia, he noted, attaches great importance to the event, as it is virtually celebrated from the start to the end of the month.
According to him, one of the reasons for organising the event in URR north was that they have realised that there is a significant drop in exclusive breast-feeding in the area. Kujabi also revealed that the trend of malnutrition in CRR north is a slip over to URR north, noting that they are sharing the same belt.
The senior programme officer of NaNA, who described the two-day convergence as participatory and educative, said more importantly the response of the participants was so impressive. He reiterated the importance of exclusive breast-feeding, as he urged them to disseminate the information back to those who were not fortunate to attend the event.
Kujabi thus informed the gathering that in each region, NaNA has Nutrition Field Officers, who are posted within the RHTs in the country. “They are posted there to coordinate all nutrition and nutritional related activities within the region and report back through the field coordinator and to NaNA,” he explained.
He informed them that there is always a routine monitoring mechanism in place at all times, by ensuring that all the targeted activities within the framework are effectively and closely monitored.
For her part, Fatou Drammeh, who is also a senior programme officer at NaNA highlighted, among other things, the importance of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This, she said includes, exclusive breast-feeding and continuous breast-feeding for two years and beyond.
According to him, it provides high quality nutrients and adequate energy and can help prevent hunger and malnutrition. “Breast-feeding is a natural and low-cost way of feeding babies and children. It is affordable for everyone and does not burden household budgets, compared to artificial feeding,” she affirmed.
According to Drammeh, breast-feeding and good quality complementary foods significantly contribute to mental and cognitive development.