One-third of children die of malnutrition in country
Around one-third of children in the country die of malnutrition which can be prevented easily by creating awareness about breastfeeding, said the speakers at the national launching of One Million Campaign, a global web-based initiative to support women to breastfeed, in the city yesterday.
The campaign was launched with the slogan 'No more milk scandals like the one with melamine'.
The launching programme was organised by Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation (BBF) with the support of Plan Bangladesh, Save the Children, USA and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN).
The campaign aims at reaching at least one million people to raise awareness about breastfeeding and create support for mothers.
The speakers said Bangladesh spends about Tk 4 000 crore annually to import milk powder and other breast milk substitutes.
This large amount of money can be saved by promoting breastfeeding, they added.
The speakers call for restrictions on unethical advertisement of breast milk substitutes that hinder the promotion of breastfeeding. They also stressed on creating proper atmosphere for breastfeeding both at home and workplace.
Abul Kalam Azad, minister for information and cultural affairs, said breastfeeding provides all possible benefits to a child at the beginning of life and there is no substitute for it.
He said there are some common misconceptions prevailing among the mothers in the country about breastfeeding, which should be eliminated.
Raising awareness against them is an urgent task, he added.
According to a study, breastfeeding within one hour of birth can save 31 percent of neonatal death.
Experts say babies should be given breast milk exclusively for first six months.
In Bangladesh only 43 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed while the rest are fed with a combination of artificial baby food and breast milk, said the study.
It also says child mortality increases by 25 percent if they are dependent on breast milk substitutes.
Duangvadee Sungkhobol, country representative of WHO, said breast milk is the most cost-effective method of providing food to babies.
It is also healthy and easily available, she added.
She expressed concern over the use of artificial baby food during disasters in the country.
Birthe Locatelli-Rossi of Unicef, Dr Hosne Ara Tahmin, additional director general of health service, Director General of family planning department Dr SK Roy, BBF Chairperson Prof Sufia Khatun and Secretary Dr Fatema Parvin Choudhury also spoke on the occasion.