The COVID-19 pandemic has caused Brunei Darussalam’s efforts to promote breastfeeding to fall below its goal, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message for World Breastfeeding Week.
He said based on monitoring, the rate of infants exclusively breast-fed in 2021 was 45 per cent, 43 per cent in 2020 and 47 per cent in 2019, short of the targetted goal of 50 per cent.
Factors that hindered the progress was likely due to less health activities and breastfeeding talks being conducted as health facilities were battling to curb COVID-19 infections, said the minister.
The minister said breastfeeding is key to post-pandemic sustainable development strategies as the practice improves nutritional status, ensure food security and reduces inequality among population.
“The breastfeeding support system that has been affected due to the pandemic needs to be restored to pre-pandemic levels as to achieve global nutrition target by the year 2025.”
World Breastfeeding Week 2022 focusses on strengthening the capacity of individuals and stakeholders in protecting, promoting and supporting the practice of breastfeeding to various levels of society, said the minister.
“It is a smart and cost-effective practice that has led to healthy generations, stronger families and sustainable development,”
“The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Step-Up for Breastfeeding’ as means to draw attention in relation to breastfeeding as well as Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).”
The minister said in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week this year, the Sultanate will focus on promoting breastfeeding practices in the media alongside continuous learning activities.
Ten breastfeeding workshops will also be carried out for expecting parents, with the hopes of identifying actions that could increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants.
Meanwhile, the minister said not all workplaces and public places provide breastfeeding rooms or facilities to support working mothers to continue breastfeeding their children.
“To support exclusive breastfeeding, it is recommended that employers and owners of public places provide facilities for private, comfortable, safe and clean breastfeeding,” said Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham.
“Brunei Darussalam aims to become a country that cultivates the practice of breastfeeding as a practice that is encouraged, supported, protected and appreciated by every layer of society.
“Let us unite, move together and prove how we can achieve the SDGs 2030 by protecting, promoting and supporting the practice of breastfeeding,” the minister said.