The International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) congratulated the Philippines for the significant increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates in the country, just as the world celebrates Global Breastfeeding Week this August 1 to 7.
Recent figures released by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI-DOST) showed that exclusive breastfeeding rates have risen from 36 per cent in 2008 to 47 per cent in 2011. The initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of delivery has increased from 32 per cent in 2008 to 52 per cent in 2011.
At the same time, there are still substantial disparities in exclusive breastfeeding rates within the Philippines. Data from the recent Family Health Survey (FHS) in 2011 showed that exclusive breastfeeding rates in some areas of the country are as low as 27 per cent. Further efforts will be needed to increase the number of mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies, which will have a significant impact on the nutritional status of children in the Philippines. Exclusive breastfeeding is the best way to provide babies with the nutrients they need during the first six months of life, requiring no additional liquids or solid food - not even water.
WHO Representative in the Philippines, Dr. Soe Nyunt-U commented: “Breastfeeding can save the lives of both mothers and babies. This is one of the important interventions to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health. The increase in breastfeeding rates takes us that much closer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals in child health. We should continue to intensify the campaign to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in order to gain more ground.”
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The government is leading the initiatives on breastfeeding promotion across the country in collaboration with various partners. It is this concerted effort along with a strong, policy and legislative framework that is making a difference.