Body & Mind
Breastfeeding: the foundation of life
Pregnancy and infancy are critically important periods for brain development for a child. Mothers and babies need good nutrition to lay the foundation for the child's future cognitive, motor and social skills, school success, and productivity. Children with the restricted development of these skills during early life are at risk for later neurological problems, poor school achievement, early school drop-out, low-skilled employment, and poor care of their own children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty and malnutrition.
Evidence shows that the right nutrition during the 1,000-day window can:
v Save more than 1 million lives each year.
v Significantly reduce the human and economic burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV and AIDS.
v Reduce the risk of developing various non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and other chronic conditions later in life.
v Improve an individual's educational achievement and earning potential.
v Increase a country's gross domestic product by at least 2-3 percent annually.
Department for International Development (DFID) of the government of the United Kingdom and the European Union started funding, 'Suchana' is a six-year programme that aims to prevent chronic malnutrition in children in the first 1,000 days of life, by addressing the multiple causes of malnutrition through nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions synergistically. Suchana is working with the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) staff across a various line of departments and Ministries to facilitate project implementation.
To this end, Suchana field workers are working astoundingly hard to deal from their pregnancy to delivery. In addition, looking after both mother and children. In our program, we have trained our workers thoroughly in nutrition, facilitation skill and counseling for about a week.Each child under 2 years of age, pregnant women and their mother in law or the decision maker of the family (father) are separated into little groups consistently and discussed around 12 nutrition-related topics.
In addition to that, to monitor the growth according to the age of the children, 'Growth Monitoring Promotion' sessions are being conducted routinely every month.Significant reduction in stunting (additional 6% in three years) among under 2 years children in Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts of Sylhet division and catalyze support across Govt. and other stakeholders for a coordinated multisectoral approach in Sylhet and Moulvibazar districts and beyond.
Projects key outcomes are: Household food security status (HH dietary diversity and consumption of nutritious food) improved and sustained through GoB and market systems. Improved infant and young child feeding (IYCF) and maternal, newborn and child health (MCHN) practices and improved systems to sustain changed practices. Strengthened coordination and governance for multi-sectoral nutrition Programs at national & sub-national levels. The consortium lead is Save the Children International. Technical Partners of the programme:WorldFish, Helen Keller International, iDE& implementing partners are: RDRS, FIVDB, CNRS.
As a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition, all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breast milk from birth to 4-6 months of age. This child-feeding ideal is to be achieved by creating an appropriate environment of awareness and support so that women can breastfeed in this manner.
v Increase women's confidence in their ability to breastfeed.
v empowerment of women can helpful for the removal of constraints and influences that manipulate perceptions and behavior towards breastfeeding.
v Furthermore, obstacles to breastfeeding within the health system, the workplace, and the community must be eliminated.
v Measures should be taken to ensure that women are adequately nourished for their optimal health and that of their families. Furthermore, ensuring that all women have access to family planning information and services allows them to sustain breastfeeding and avoid shortened birth intervals that may compromise their health and nutritional status, and that of their children.
v All healthcare staff should be trained in the skills necessary to implement these breastfeeding policies.
v Actions should be taken for protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women and established means for its enforcement.
For long-term national and individual well-being, we should support mothers who wish to follow this natural practice, removing any barriers that stand in their way.
Whenever we are about to build a house, we give prior to the materials needed for a strong infrastructure so our next generations could live there for decades. Then why are we compromising when it comes to building the foundation of our offspring.
The Writer is Technical Manager, Nutrition, Suchana