BY RUTENDO MATANHIKE
The Ministry of Health and Child Care and civic society organisations last week urged Parliament to craft bills that promote breastfeeding of infants by creating lactation areas in workplaces.
Dexter Chagwena, a nutritionist in the ministry, said breastfeeding impacted greatly on the development of the brain of a child, an advantage that would be useful for economic growth for Zimbabwe in the future.
“Breastfeeding impacts the brain development of a baby, which will positively affect the baby’s life in the future. Research has shown that a baby who is not breastfed usually has stunted growth and is malnourished. An investment in promoting women in the country to breastfeed will have a positive impact for the economy in the future,” he said before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health.
“Parliament should start promoting the crafting of bills that will require both private and public entities to create lactation rooms in workplaces to ensure that children get breast milk from their working mothers.”
Chagwena also said mothers needed intensive education on advantages of breastfeeding as opposed to store-bought formulas which have been extensively advertised as alternatives for working mothers.
“Breastmilk is and has always been the best for babies, but however, a lot of corporates have convinced many mothers that baby formulas can provide the same advantages as milk from mothers, so many working mothers will give their babies formulas at an early stage of their life, which can have consequences later on,” he said.
Chairperson of Zimbabwe Civil Society for Scaling up Nutrition, Kudakwashe Zombe, said babies needed to be breastfed from birth because their brains developed rapidly during that time.
“Babies need breastfeeding from birth because their brains develop much rapidly from time of birth up to two years and failure to get their brains developed at an early stage has irreversible consequences,” Zombe said.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health, Ruth Labode, said the initiative while great, required that it be applicable to Zimbabwean women who were mostly involved in income-generation activities in the informal sector and altogether cognisant of women in the rural areas.