Mon | Oct 23, 2017

National infant feeding policy coming, says Tufton

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton (right) in dialogue with (from left): Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, Dr Winston De La Haye; PAHO/WHO Representative for Jamaica, Bermuda and Cayman Islands, Dr Noreen Jack; FAO Representative in Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, Dr Gillian Smith; and UNICEF Representative in Jamaica, Mark Connolly, at the launch of the 2017 National Breastfeeding Week and Conference, held at Jamaica Conference Centre on Tuesday.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton said Jamaicans can expect a new National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy and the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Strategic Action Plan, which are both geared towards improving the health and well-being of the nation's children.

Addressing the National Breastfeeding Week's launch and two-day conference at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Tuesday, Tufton said the policy and plan will better inform health-care professionals and parents on the proper nutritional habits they should develop in children.

"One critical component has now been completed - the drafting of the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy and the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Strategic Action Plan. The action plan proposes several strategies aimed at improving some specific nutrition indicators - exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding indicators," he noted.

"These documents are now being deliberated at the Cabinet level and once completed will be advanced to the wider society."

He pointed out that objectives similar to those of the drafted policy and plan have already been implemented, especially with regard to proper breastfeeding.

"With the support of Govern-ment and non-government partners, several interventions have been implemented, which resulted in significant improve-ments. These include training programmes for health-care workers, public-education campaigns and community-level interventions, along with others, in pursuit of the agreed targets," the minister said.

 

IMPORTANCE OF PROPER NUTRITION

 

Tufton stressed the importance of proper nutrition for children, beginning with breastfeeding immediately after birth and within the first six months of a child's life.

"Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that breast milk, as the natural first food for babies, provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first six months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child's nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life," he noted.

The minister emphasised that the country must continue to work at improving the exclusive breastfeeding rates.

"It is too important an issue to let it fall by the wayside. Our mothers are critical to this process, and so we have to work with them wherever they are to reap the results we want," he added.

National Breastfeeding Week is being observed this week under the theme 'Sustaining Breastfeeding Together'.