World Breastfeeding Week 2018 took place from 6-10 August. The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week was “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life” — a recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to a baby’s future.
Every year, countries around the world observe World Breastfeeding Week for a good reason: breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to provide children with the best possible start to life. This year, the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva, Fiji celebrated by conducting decoration competitions and debate sessions.
For the decoration competitions, each ward had to come up with creative ideas and designs in order to meet judges’ criteria. In the debate session, the maternity ward argued why exclusive breastfeeding is best for the baby, while the paediatric ward came up argued why breastfeeding together with supplement are best for both the mother and baby, coming up with some interesting real-life scenarios.
In the closing speech of the event, the acting head of the Department of Paediatrics, Dr Ilisapeci Vereti highlighted the importance of breastfeeding and why breastmilk is so essential during the first six months of life.
“From the earliest moments of a child’s life, breastfeeding can mean the difference between life and death. In fact, breastfeeding newborn babies within the first hour of their life safeguards them against newborn deaths. Improving breastfeeding practices could save the lives of 823,000 children under age five every year.”
Many different factors can prevent women from breastfeeding. Some women begin breastfeeding when their babies are born but then stop soon afterwards perhaps because of a lack of support, the need to return to work or the thought that they don’t have enough milk.
The latest Fiji nutrition survey showed very low exclusive breastfeeding rates of 40-50%. It also highlighted the issues of re-admission of babies due to breastfeeding issues, poor breastfeeding facility assessment rates and the continual existence of malnutrition in Fiji.
Dr Ilisapeci closed off the successful event with a message of hope: “All things considered, a lot of factors come into play and so every year as health staff and advocates for breastfeeding, we are continually challenged to shine as champions of breastfeeding.”
As we mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, it is crucial that everyone helps and supports mothers in their breastfeeding journey.