The First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has urged the public to reduce the workload on nursing mothers to enable them to practise exclusive breastfeeding of their babies with ease.
She said that required the active support of employers and policy makers “to change the operational policy environment” to make the practice effective.
Mrs Akufo-Addo was speaking at the national launch of the World Breastfeeding Week at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi yesterday. It was on the theme: “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life.”
The First Lady said there was the need to prioritise breastfeeding as an important public health programme, adding that breast milk must be seen as the most important and best meal for all infants.
“Breast milk is the most nutritious potent food for infants and toddlers and it’s essential for brain development,” she stressed.
“Let’s put investment into promoting breastfeeding. We must ensure that our babies thrive beyond the survival period,” she added.
She described breastfeeding as a learning behaviour for both mother and child, which needed support and encouragement from multi-players, including the government.
Mrs Akufo-Addo said research by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) had shown that Ghana recorded the highest input in early initiation of breastfeeding in the world and applauded Ghanaian women for that.
She said the research, however, added that the country could do more by encouraging women to rely exclusively on breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life.
In a speech read for him, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, said while the early initiation of breastfeeding was on the increase nationwide, the same could not be said of the Ashanti Region.
He said the early initiation of breastfeeding in the region was on the decline and called for measures to arrest it.
However, the Director for Family Health of the ministry, Dr Patrick Aboagye, who read the minister’s speech, did not provide figures to back the claim.
Nursing mothers who excelled in exclusive breastfeeding of their babies, were presented with prizes.