ISLAMABAD: In light of World Breastfeeding Week, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) held a seminar to highlight the importance of Breastfeeding and its nutritional impact on the health of an infant.
The seminar was organized by the Nutrition Wing of Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.
WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within an hour after giving birth, until the baby is six months old. Complementary nutritious foods should be added to their diets, while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years of age.
The health experts of Pakistan have decided to reach out to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to implement the ‘Code of Breastmilk Substitute,’ and minimize the advertisements of formula milk industry.
Nutrition Wing Director, Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai informed that the Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance was passed in 2002 and its rules were drafted in 2009, after which the provincial and federal committees were formed for its implementation. However, enforcement of these rules still remain a challenge, due to strong lobbying of the manufacturing industry of Formula milk.
Statistically, it was revealed that only 39 percent of infants have been exclusively breastfed. Whereas, Formula milk consumption is increasing on a regular basis, showing stunted growth in approximately 44 percent of children, leading to a loss of 2-3 percent GDP.
This grave matter was brought into the notice of the Apex court in Lahore registry, but due to expensive lawyers hired by the massive industries, the case got adjourned till 2019.
PIMS Executive Director Dr. Raja Amjad and other concerned health experts have decided to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to limit and discourage the baby food manufacturing industry and its media campaigning, promoting formula milk.
The speakers stated that other than the extensive marketing, the doctors these days are also recommending formula milk, when the mothers are absolutely healthy to feed their babies.
PIMS, Head of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Prof Dr. Batool Mazhar added that, appropriate feeding practices are essential for the nutritional status, growth, development and survival of infants and young children.
The speakers and health experts have requested the concerned authorities to triple the allocation meant for the sector of maternal health, in order to reduce the infant and maternal mortality.
It was also shared that, 49.3 percent of mothers in Punjab, 59.7 percent in Sindh, 30.2 percent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 49.7 percent in Balochistan, 43 percent in AJK and 33.6 percent in Gilgit-Baltistan are anemic.
The national infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 74, while under-5, mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 89.