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SAYS HEALTH DEPARTMENT
Only 50% of Filipina moms breastfeed babies
By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net First Posted 14:14:00 08/06/2009 Filed Under: Health, Women, Justice & Rights, Children, Philippines – Regions

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) found that the 50 percent breastfeeding rate in 2008 was down from 53 percent in 2003; the same study showed 34 percent of infants below six months are being exclusively breastfed.

“During disasters, infants and children are the most vulnerable to disease, malnutrition, and death. Breastfeeding, then, becomes a life-saving intervention providing the greatest protection for infants who are most vulnerable to disease and death in emergency situations,” said Duque.

He said DoH has adapted the Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, which include actions on how to encourage breastfeeding among infants and children especially during emergencies and in exceptionally difficult circumstances. During disasters, safe corners in evacuation centers must be provided with available breastfeeding counselor or mother-to-mother support, he added.

Breastfeeding can also prevent infant deaths due to diarrhea—the tenth leading cause of death among infants—that is caused by limited access to clean drinking water and utensils in bottle-feeding, added Duque.

Citing the Rooming In and Breastfeeding Act signed into law during the term of late president Corazon Aquino, Duque said breastfeeding is the “first preventive health measure that can be given to the child at birth” since it is nutritious, has immunization factors to help the infant fight infection, and enhances the maturation of an infant’s
organ system.

DoH and the World Health Organization recommend breastfeeding to babies up to two years or at least during the first six months, after which complementary food should be given, said Duque.

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