Kalafong Hospital in Gauteng celebrated World Breastfeeding Week 2019 (1 – 7 August) yesterday with a series of dialogues about breastfeeding.
SA's First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe spoke at the event, highlighting the importance of developing local communities that welcome and support mothers who breastfeed their babies.
"We need to become a breastfeeding-friendly society and nation," she said. "If South Africa is to reach the 2025 UN target of an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 50 per cent for the first six months of an infant's life, we need to empower and support women who breastfeed in our communities."
The current rate of exclusive breastfeeding in South Africa is 32 per cent.
'It is used to literally keep a baby alive'
Save the Children South Africa hosted the event in partnership with the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR), the South African Civil Society for Women's Adolescent's and Children's Health (SACSoWACH) and the National Department of Health.
Throughout the day, mothers were invited to share their breastfeeding experiences and to register as breastmilk donors, with the SABR placing an ambitious target of 100 new donors.
"When mothers donate breastmilk, it is used to literally keep a baby alive, giving them the perfect nourishment they require to grow strong and be healthy," says Stasha Jordan, executive director of SABR.
The donated milk is supplied to premature babies born receiving intensive care in neonatal units across the country.
"Around 1 200 viable donors are recruited annually, however; the inclusion criteria see nearly 60 per cent of donors being ruled out as non-viable," says Stasha, adding that "Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life is the single best way to fight infection and malnutrition."
To learn more about becoming a SABR donor or other ways to assist, visit www.sabr.org.za.
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