Only thirty-three percent of mothers breastfeed their baby in Belize. Ministry of Health and PAHO would like to see those numbers increase even further by the end of this year. The Institute for Nutrition in Central America and Panama (INCAP) is hosting a workshop in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and PAHO to commemorate breastfeeding week, which is being celebrated under the theme “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life”. Love News spoke with Dr. Jorge Polanco, INCAP, Country Coordinator, who said that relevant information is being shared with healthcare providers to pass on to mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Dr. Jorge Palanco INCAP Country Coordinator: The intention is to ensure that every mother is properly, is fully informed, properly educated as to the benefits of breast milk. As to the benefits of breast milk to the infant and to the benefits of breast feeding on her own body; on her. So then once they are aware it will be and informed choice; we know It’s and individual choice so the mother has the right but at the same time we have to recognize the right of the children; that they also have the right to the best standards of health.
Johnelle Mckenzie: Would it be right to say that all mothers are able to breast feed. Is there anything hindering a particular mother from breast feeding.
Dr. Jorge Palanco INCAP Country Coordinator: The answer is yes to all your questions and thats where the challenge comes in. There is a need for greater information, for greater education, for greater motivation so that they could make that choice because a very common issue that comes up everywhere in Belize is that they had to stop breast feeding because they had to go back to work. Of course thats a reality and at the same time it’s a challenge and that is where during this month also the Ministry of Health will be visiting work places promoting the strategy for them to enhance breast feeding in the work place.
Love News also spoke with Nurse Augustina Elijio, Deputy Director of Health Services, who said that breastfeeding must become a cultural norm.
Augustine Elijio Deputy Director of Health Services: Its tantamount that not only mothers should be into this business of breast feeding but it must be the entire family like within a home setting .The father, the mother and any other persons as wells the community at large must be on board so that we could promote this whole aspect of breast feeding to the end having a healthy populace.
Johnelle Mckenzie: Do you encourage breast feeding in public places and how should a mother go about doing that?
Augustine Elijio Deputy Director of Health Services: Breast feeding should not be something that you should feel embarrassed about but what needs to be done like within institution, different organization is to have adequate accommodation for that to be done so one of the things that is being agitated for is advocated for is more a quieter safe place even within the work setting that you could breast feed. A place that you could pump your breast milk. A place within that setting that you could store your breast milk to take home to your infant so those are some of the simple interventions that could be in place. That could promote breast feeding especially in the work place.
Johnelle Mckenzie: Dr. Palanco said that babies who are in inclusively Brest fed go on to live healthier lives.
This is Jonelle Mckenzie reporting for Love News.
Dr. Polanco said that babies who are exclusively breastfed go on to lead healthier lives.