At least 49 per cent of newborns in Bangladesh are deprived of breastfeeding within one hour of their births.
This happens as less than one per cent of the babies are born at baby friendly hospitals in Bangladesh, according to a breastfeeding scorecard jointly prepared by World Health Organization, UNICEF and Global Breastfeeding Collective.
And at least another 45 per cent of the newborns are deprived of breastfeeding in the first five months of their life, says the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard 2018 unveiled Tuesday on the eve of World Breastfeeding Week celebrations that began Wednesday.
WHO recommended initiation of exclusive breastfeeding within the first hour of life of the newborns and for the continuation of the practice until they reach the age of six months.
The WHO explains the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as a process through which the newborns are fed only mothers’ breast milk without any supplementary food, drink or even water.
Breastfeeding campaigners said that the scorecard depicted a dismal picture of exclusive breastfeeding practice in Bangladesh exposing many mothers and their newborns to various health risks.
About 3.5 million newborns are born every year in Bangladesh, according to Save the Children.
The scorecard reveals that the country’s 44 per cent primary health care centres offer no breastfeeding counseling to mothers separately.
It says that only 0.6 per cent births occur at baby friendly hospitals in Bangladesh.
The National Food Policy Plan of Action and Country Investment Plan released by food ministry in 2017, shows that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is fast decreasing in Bangladesh.
It also shows that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding dropped to 47 per cent in 2015 from 64 per cent in 2011.
Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation chairman Dr SK Roy, known for his dogged campaigns to promote exclusive breastfeeding, told New Age that the practice helps develop the much needed attachment between the newborns and their moms.
He identified C-section births as an obstacle on the way of initiation of exclusive breastfeeding.
He agrees with the WHO that barely 0.6 per cent of births in Bangladesh occur at baby friendly hospitals.
He said that the growing rate of C-section births sharply reduced the rate of breastfeeding in Bangladesh.
Roy said that ‘the so-called beauty-conscious wealthy moms developed a regrettable reluctance to breastfeed their babies under the misconception that it would affect the shape of their breasts.’
This misconception encourage these moms to adopt the wrong option of feeding breast milk substitutes to their babies harming themselves as well as their newborns, he said.
Infants deprived of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of their life could suffer malnutrition, frequent diarrhea, pneumonia and other life threatening diseases including hampered brain development, said Dr SK Roy.
At the same time moms avoiding breastfeeding are vulnerable to breast cancer, he said.
Roy said the influential companies selling breast milk substitutes spend a lot to popularize their products violating the law.
They bribe doctors to prescribe breast milk substitutes to families, he said.
Inaugurating the World Breast Feeding Week celebration on Wednesday, health minister Mohammad Nasim said that the rate of breastfeeding kinds until they reach age of two was 87 per cent.
He said the government had set the goal of raising the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to 100 per cent.
Institute of Public Health Nutrition and Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation jointly organized the celebrations.
Nasim said that the government would not allow illegal imports and marketing of breast milk substitutes.
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