Breastfeeding practice must be preserved, says minister

James Kon

With various measures implemented to encourage, support and preserve breastfeeding, the practice in Brunei Darussalam has been on the rise.

Only 35 per cent exclusively breastfed in 2012 while exclusive breastfeeding from April to September 2019 was 47 per cent. This is an encouraging increase. A 45 per cent increase is projected for 2019-2020.

This was stated by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in a message for World Breastfeeding Week.

The minister highlighted, “This year, Brunei Darussalam’s Ministry of Health celebrates World Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to 7.

“World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year worldwide to encourage, support and preserve the practice of breastfeeding because it’s a smart and cost effective investment that should be followed by every country, society and family. It is not only the best practice for the mother and the newborn, but also brings several benefits to the national economy and productivity.

“The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet’ to draw attention in relation to breastfeeding and its impact on the environment and climate change. It also aims to recognise breastfeeding as an option of climate-smart decision as well as produce action to improve the health of the planet and the people through breastfeeding.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: MOH

“Climate change and the deterioration of environment are some of the challenges faced by the world today. Each individual has a role to play to reduce their carbon footprint and ecological footprint. This includes the way we feed infants. Breastfeeding can reduce the impact on the environment because it does not require any process of packaging, transport and preparation which is needed in food production of breastmilk substitutes for infants.

“Breastfeeding only requires mothers to take supplements by utilising little natural resources and do not result in wastage. The process of direct breastfeeding and hand-expressed breastmilk are also more efficient from the aspect of reducing wastage, saving energy and other resources.

“Increasing the practice of optimal breastfeeding can also prevent more than 823,000 deaths of children and 20,000 deaths of mothers worldwide each year. Therefore, parents should be supported to make the decision of making the choice of healthy food for their infants including breastfeeding. Let’s us create and further strengthen a suitable environment for breastfeeding.

“Alhamdulillah, we support and preserve the practice of breastfeeding. The enforcement of Maternity Leave Regulation 2011 was implemented on January 1, 2011 where maternity leave was increased from 56 days to 105 days for mothers working in the civil service and also extended to mothers working in the private sector,” the minister said.

The caring and concerns of the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam on the well-being of the citizens and residents of the country, especially mothers, are clearly demonstrated by assisting employers in the private sector to pay the full salary of mothers for the duration of five weeks of maternity leave. Welfare protection for mothers like the Maternity Leave Regulation 2011 has enabled and facilitated the practice of breastfeeding.

“Meanwhile, the Government of His Majesty through the Ministry of Health also provided continuous training for professional health workers on breastfeeding to enable them to support mothers in Brunei Darussalam. With such initiative, especially mothers of newborns will be able to gain access to immediate breastfeeding counselling. Brunei Darussalam also implemented the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in 2019.

“Alhamdulillah, with the various measures implemented to encourage, support and preserve the practice of breastfeeding in Brunei Darussalam, the rate of breastfeeding has been increasing year to year,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham added.

“In realising the objectives of the theme for World Breastfeeding Week this year, the Ministry of Health hopes for the continuous support and proactive involvement from various parties to be responsible and committed towards increasing and further strengthening the level of health of the nation, especially by providing support to mothers and families in the aspect of breastfeeding.”