KARACHI - Experts laid emphasis on mother feeding for infants as it decreases the risk of illness and death. They suggested this during a seminar on “Saving Lives of Newborn by Early Initiation of Breastfeeding and Exclusive Breast Feeding” held on Wednesday. The seminar was organised by the Health, Education and Literacy Programme (Help) orginisation in collaboration with South Asian Infant Feeding Research Network (Saifrn). This event was attended by doctors, pediatricians, government officials, media, religious leaders and civil service representatives.University of Sydney Associate professor and Saifrn Consultant Dr Micheal Dibley gave an audio presentation from Australia on the ‘Research in Infant and Young Child Feeding in South Asia.’ He suggested breastfeeding for at least two years and presented cross country comparison on timely, exclusive, bottle and full breastfeeding. Sindh Health Secretary Inamullah Khan Dharejo said the government would implement the brest feeding law as soon as possible. The health secretary said this seminar was an important step that encouraged the people for the well being and healthy life of their newborn babies. He said he was happy on the Help for establishing an interactive and fruitful discussion in which the policy makers have appreciated the efforts by the Help. Health DG Dr Ashfaq Memon stressed on the need for capacity building of health workers. Help Chairperson Dr DS Akram shared the achievements and goals of the Help for its part in reducing deaths by improving nutritional status of newborns as in Pakistan the infant mortality is 61.27/1000. Dr DS stressed upon the group meetings with stakeholders that would help achieving the goals. She asserted colostrums and breast milk prevent infection; therefore early breast feeding (within 1 hour) and EBF (6months) and CBF (2 years) can save 1.3 million children per year and decrease deaths by 22 per cent. Dr DS pointed out that the law of breast feeding needs to be implemented as there is little emphasis on it in medical curricula, unveiling that bottle feeding is 33 per cent in Pakistan (highest in South Asia). Help prgramme manger Dr Mallick Maroof said the function of the board involves receiving reports on any violation, planning, coordination, dissemination of information, educational material and to advise government on policies for protection of breast feeding. Religious scholar Qari Sheharyar said the Quran also emphasis on the mother’s milk for the children. Nutrition Cell Representative Zainub Pervez, MNCH Dr S Hassan Mehdi Zaidi, Help’s Ms Faiza Shafiq and others also shared their views.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 22-Aug-2013 here.