The Eastern Regional Minister, Mavis Ama Frimpong, has petitioned government to extend maternity leave from three to six months, to enable nursing mothers have ample time to effectively practice exclusive breastfeeding.
While requesting for the maternal leave extension to six months, she also called for a national debate, since it will be time wasting if nursing mothers are not well sensitised on the essence of exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
The Minister, Mavis Ama Frimpong, was speaking at the launch of World Breastfeeding Week on the theme “Breastfeeding, a key to sustainable development” here in Koforidua.
She indicated that three months maternity leave does not permit mothers to fully undertake the recommended six months exclusive breastfeeding, and that there is the need to reconsider maternity leave, so that six months of exclusive breastfeeding recommended by the Ghana Health Service can be adhered to.
She added that inadequate access to skilled breastfeeding, aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, and lack of lactation support from male partners, as well as inaccurate information from health providers, are all hindrances to the achievement of exclusive breastfeeding, which must be addressed.
Ms. Frimpong stated that World Breastfeeding Week marks a new start, which will determine the achievement of Ghana’s sustainable development, through the protection and support of the breastfeeding exercise.
She said breastfeeding lays the foundation for good health for all children, both in the short and long term. “Feeding our children with breast milk gives them the best start in life. It is safer and readily available, cost effective and environmentally friendly,” she said.
On her part, the Eastern Regional Director of Health, Dr. Mrs. Charity Sarpong, also stressed the need for exclusive breastfeeding, adding that it helps the child avoid some communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
Dr. Ebenezer Appiah Denkyira, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, also advised nursing mothers to frequently seek postnatal care, as well as sleep under treated mosquito nets with their babies to reduce the high rate of child mortality in the country.