'Take breastfeeding seriously' - Ferguson
MINISTER OF Health Dr Fenton Ferguson has urged Jamaicans to take breastfeeding seriously.
In his message to mark the start of Breastfeeding Week, which was read by Sharmaine Edwards, director of nutrition at the ministry, Dr Ferguson pointed to the need for more support to be given to mothers.
"Breastfeeding is an invaluable gift that every newborn has a right to have. There are certain anxieties that cannot be ignored and mothers need to be reassured that breast milk is all that the baby needs for healthy growth and development for the first six months," Edwards said at a church service which was held at the Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church in St Andrew, last Saturday.
"While breastfeeding is natural, it can take time to learn and it helps when mothers get ongoing support. We call upon the health care providers, the fathers, the grandmothers, and even the community to provide this ongoing support for our mothers," she continued.
"I implore members of the public to support the initiatives of breastfeeding as we work towards improving the health of our children. The Ministry of Health will continue to promote sound feeding practices necessary to empower parents and others as a necessary step to securing the future of our children," Edwards said.
Elder Claudette Genas, who delivered the sermon, echoed similar sentiments, adding that more should be done to tackle undernutrition.
"Even in the animal world breastfeeding is done because it is integral to development and it is a very crucial part of bonding. Children must be fed and that's what God expects of us," Genas told the congregation.
"It is said that undernutrition affects about a quarter of the children's population globally. This calls attention to the fact that when we support breastfeeding, we are joining together to advocate for and strengthen the pragmatic efforts to save our children from being robbed health-wise as well as that bonding which was set apart by the plan of God," she said.
"The truth is breastfeeding provides all the nutrients and it helps prevents malnutrition and hunger while being very cost-effective. We find, however, that a lot of mothers are quick to go to the shelf to get artificial feeding, but we know that the best food for a baby is one that is natural and so a child should not be so deprived," Genas told the congregation.