41% of infants exclusively breastfed in Zim

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Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa

ONLY 41% of infants under six months are being exclusively breastfed despite efforts by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to promote the practice, a Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) report has revealed.

by Stephen Chadenga

A Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey carried by Zimstat showed that exclusive breastfeeding was still a challenge among women resulting in malnourishment and stunted growth in a significant number of children.

Up to 15 000 children in Zimbabwe were reportedly chronically malnourished due to low, or lack of breastfeeding.

“Forty-one percent of infants less than six months were exclusively breastfed,” the Zimstat report reveals.

mother-breastfeeding-pf

“There were no sex differentials, however, infants in urban areas (44,9%) were more likely to be exclusively breastfed than those in rural areas (39,5%).”

Nutrition experts say proper feeding of infants and young children increases their chance for survival, optimal growth and development particularly in the critical window from birth to two years of age.

The World Health Organisation stipulates that the accepted “universal coverage” for exclusive breastfeeding is 90% .

Though none of the provinces was yet to reach the national target, Matabeleland North and South provinces had the highest number of exclusively breastfed infants at 58,6% and 57,3% respectively.

Mashonaland West had the lowest (29,6%).

The statistics also showed that 84% of children aged 12-15 months were breastfed compared to 17,1% aged 20-23 months.