Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has called on organizations to embrace breastfeeding in the workplace by creating lactation rooms to ensure children are breast fed up to the recommended 24 months.
By Faith Zvorufura and Tracy Ndlovu
Speaking at the Parent Friendly Workplaces Seminar today in Harare, MoHCC Nutrition Advocacy and Communication Consultant, Dexter Chagwena said working women have been excluded from issues to do with breast feeding resulting in their inability to breast feed children within the first critical 1000 days.
“We have looked at working women being left out in issues to do with breast feeding support and protection, thus we are advocating for creation of parent friendly work places where there are initiatives that are put in place to support women to be able to breast feed.
“As a country, what we are trying to do is to have employers, ministry of health and other partners to see how we can initiate and kick-start learning from other companies that are doing it in the country.
“You find that when a woman gives birth, she goes for maternity leave for three months and their babies are still young. They should continue to breast feed exclusively for the first six months. You then realize that for the other three months the work places are not friendly enough to support breast feeding,” said Chagwena.
According to ministry of health, the first 1000 days are the most critical for breast feeding and poor nutrition in the uterus and early childhood can result in death of children.
A child should be put to breast within the first hour of life and in Zimbabwe 69% go through this procedure though the target is 98%.
Chagwena added that men should be fully involved and supportive to women in making this initiative a success.
“Male involvement is important as support from the fathers is needed as well in taking a direct position in terms of bringing up the baby.” He added.
Meanwhile, Nestle, UNICEF, Lafarge Cement and Chogugudza Primary School have created lactation rooms for breastfeeding employees encouraging other organizations to take up the initiative.