2,000 Philip­pine moms show breast­feed­ing is best for ba­bies

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

MANILA: Some 2,000 moth­ers in the Philip­pines breast­fed their ba­bies in pub­lic yes­ter­day in a gath­er­ing aimed at cut­ting in­fant deaths and dis­pelling taboos over the prac­tice. To the up­beat sounds of lo­cal pop songs, hun­dreds of moth­ers suck­led their ba­bies in­side a cav­ernous Manila sta­dium, some of them mul­ti­task­ing by feed­ing two chil­dren at the same time. Or­ga­niz­ers of the an­nual event said they aimed to en­cour­age Filip­ina moth­ers to ex­clu­sively breast­feed their ba­bies for the first six months to lower the coun­try's high in­fant mor­tal­ity rate.

"In the Philip­pines we still have a very low in­fant breast­feed­ing rate," Ros Ma­ca­chor, an or­ga­nizer for the non-gov­ern­ment ad­vo­cacy group Breast­feed­ing Pi­nays said. Ma­ca­chor said Filip­ina moth­ers typ­i­cally breast­feed their new­borns only for the first 24 days, then switch to com­mer­cial in­fant for­mula which is ubiq­ui­tous and heav­ily mar­keted by pow­er­ful con­glom­er­ates. A WHO study pub­lished in 2013 found only 34 per­cent of Filipino in­fants younger than six months were ex­clu­sively breast­fed, and an "alarm­ing" 36 per­cent were fed in­fant for­mula.

This was due to "ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing by milk com­pa­nies" to counter laws de­signed to en­cour­age breast­feed­ing, the coun­try re­port added. The UN Chil­dren's Fund said 28 out of ev­ery 1,000 Filipinos die un­der the age of five. While that marks a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment from the 56 per 1000 deaths recorded in 1990 it re­mains above the coun­try's stated goal of low­er­ing in­fant mor­tal­ity rates to 19 per 1,000.

Ma­ca­chor said sim­i­lar mass breast­feed­ing events would help com­bat stereo­types and en­cour­age moth­ers to ex­er­cise their right and shrug off taboos against nurs­ing ba­bies in pub­lic. "They should not be in­tim­i­dated by peo­ple telling them to go breast­feed in the toi­lets, which is un­san­i­tary," she added. — AFP

MANILA: Moth­ers par­tic­i­pate in a breast­feed­ing event in Manila. — AFP

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