Sierra Leone joins the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week 2023 on 1 August 2023 with the theme: “Let’s make breastfeeding at work, work”.
Activities during the Week will focus on community sensitisation through meetings at Peripheral Health Units and catchment areas.
The aim is to increase and sustain advocacy during and after the World Breastfeeding Week with the aim of promoting behaviour change of mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
Every year World Breastfeeding Week is commemorated to promote and support early initiation (immediately after delivery) and exclusive breastfeeding of children 0-6 months as well as continued breast feeding until two years and beyond.
Promotion of exclusive breastfeeding is an important component of the National Food and Nutrition Programme of Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health.
Current statistics show an increase in the national exclusive breastfeeding rate at 32% (MICS 4 2010) compared to 11% in DHS.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week said: “In the last 10 years, many countries have made significant progress to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates. Yet even greater progress is possible when breastfeeding is protected and supported, particularly in the workplace.”
Dr. Ghebreyesus emphasised the need for greater breastfeeding support across all workplaces to sustain and improve progress on breastfeeding rates globally, adding that in the last decade, the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding has increased by a remarkable 10 percentage points, to 48 per cent globally.
“However, to reach the global 2030 target of 70 percent, the barriers women and families face to achieve their breastfeeding goals must be addressed. Supportive workplaces are key. Evidence shows that while breastfeeding rates drop significantly for women when they return to work, that negative impact can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies.
“Family-friendly workplace policies – such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk – create an environment that benefits not only working women and their families but also employers.
“These polices generate economic returns by reducing maternity-related absenteeism, increasing the retention of female workers, and reducing the costs of hiring and training new staff.