Breastfeeding a ‘cost-effective’ practice every family should adopt

|     Wani Roslan     |

BREASTFEEDING is a smart investment and a cost-effective practice that the community and every parent and family should adopt, as it is the best practice for mothers and children that can “bring great benefits to the country’s economy and productivity,” said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

Speaking at the launch of the ministry-organised World Breastfeeding Week 2019 yesterday, the minister added that the event’s theme, ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’, emphasises that a strong support for breastfeeding practices will help parents adopt optimal breastfeeding practices, which is carrying out breastfeeding for a minimum six months as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Strong support from husbands, family members, workplace and the community can help increase breastfeeding rates where husbands or fathers are involved in breastfeeding and have a responsive relationship with their babies. It will help encourage breastfeeding practices and positively impact the family relationship, and in addition, will stimulate the development of infants faster,” said the minister.

He highlighted that breastfeeding has many benefits to both the mother and child’s health for the short and long-term, as breast milk is unique and the perfect nutrition to meet the child’s nutritional needs and improve their immune system.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham continued, “Breastfeeding protects against infections, reduces diarrhoea, reduces the risk of lung and ear infections, prevents dental caries and malocclusion as well as help develop the level of children’s intelligence (IQ).

“In the aspect of mother’s health, breastfeeding can reduce the risk of diseases such as breast cancer before menopause and ovarian cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes, osteoporosis as well as prevent postpartum depression.”

The minister urged all staff at the Ministry of Health (MoH) and members of the public not to take lightly the matter of promoting, supporting and absorbing breastfeeding practices among parents and families in Brunei Darussalam, noting that the effort to raise public awareness especially within the family “should always be continued and given attention”.

With regard to the practice of holistic approach concepts, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham shared that the initiatives in encouraging breastfeeding should involve both husband and wife, such as organising co-parenting workshops that can encourage them to work together to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as parents. “Insya Allah, such initiatives can help boost the confidence of the spouses and enable them to provide the best start for babies. Hence, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also play an important role in promoting such initiatives,” the minister said.

He added that other initiatives to encourage breastfeeding include providing breastfeeding facilities or breastfeeding rooms in public areas, such as the workplace and shopping centres.

“This recommendation is based on a study carried out abroad that showed that among the factors to support breastfeeding and encourage it to be carried out for a longer period is through [making available] facilities at the workplace for mothers to continue breastfeeding,” said the minister.