Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Brunei - Breastfeeding: Simple, smart foundation in life

Message by Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Acting Minister of Health Brunei Darussalam, on the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week 2016

GIVING all children the best foundation in life begins with breastfeeding – one of the simplest, smartest and most cost-effective actions proven to generate healthier children, stronger families and sustainable growth.

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated every August 1 to 7 to highlight the critical importance of promoting the value of breastfeeding as the biological and social norm for infant and young child feeding.

In Brunei Darussalam, WBW has successfully been highlighted since 1999. This year, once again, the Ministry of Health (MoH) will lead the nation in celebrating WBW by carrying out various activities to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

The theme for this year is ‘Breastfeeding – A Key to Sustainable Development’. In 2015, the world’s leaders identified and agreed upon 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity. We all have a part to play in achieving these goals by 2030.

The WBW 2016 theme is about how breastfeeding is a key element in getting us to think about how to value our wellbeing from the start of life, how to respect each other and care for the world we share, leading towards achieving sustainable development through the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding can be linked to each of the SDGs along five broad thematic areas: nutrition/food security; health, well-being and survival; environment and climate change; work productivity, empowerment, social protection; and sustainable partnerships and rule of law.

The objectives of the WBW 2016 are: To inform people about the new SDGs and how they relate to breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding; to firmly anchor breastfeeding as a key component of sustainable development; to galvanise a variety of actions at all levels on breastfeeding in the new era of the SDGs; and to engage and collaborate with a wider range of actors around promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is important to sustain development. New evidence confirms that optimal breastfeeding (exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months and continuous breastfeeding up to two years) could save 823,000 child lives and add USD$300 billion to the global economy annually.

Breastfeeding lays the foundation for good health for all children both in the short and long term, and also benefits mothers. 20,000 deaths due to breast cancer globally could be averted if mothers breastfeed optimally.

However, global breastfeeding rates have remained stagnant for the past two decades. Less than 40 per cent of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.

This global scenario is also happening in Brunei Darussalam where exclusive breastfeeding rate was as low as 12 per cent in 2000 and has increased to 27 per cent in 2010. This rate is still low compared to the global target of 50 per cent by the year 2025.

Brunei Darussalam needs to continue and strengthen its initiatives and multisectoral strategies towards achieving higher exclusive breastfeeding rates in the nation.

Breastfeeding mothers face many barriers to breastfeeding. They may receive inaccurate information from health providers and have no access to skilled breastfeeding counseling. It is also important for them to have support from their husbands, families and the community in order to sustain breastfeeding.

Acquiring the correct knowledge, skills and compe-tency in breastfeeding and related issues among relevant health care providers is important to this ministry. In-house breastfeeding management training programme to improve knowledge, confidence, counselling and practical skills have been continuously conducted so that mothers with breastfeeding difficulties can be supported hands-on.

Brunei Darussalam aspires to be a nation in which breastfeeding is protected, promoted, supported and valued by the whole of society.

WBW 2016 marks a new start for us to work together and show how we can achieve sustainable development through the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.

This is particularly pertinent for Brunei Darussalam and is especially well-aligned with two out of three of the MoH’s three strategic priorities for the next five years, that is, to inculcate that ‘health is everyone’s business as well as to prevent and control of non-communicable diseases


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