500 children die daily due to inadequate breast-feeding in Tanzania

08:38, August 24, 2010      

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The Tanzanian government has disclosed that at least 500 children below the age of five years die every day in the country due to malnutrition related problems.

Tanzanian Permanent Secretary in the Health and Social Welfare Ministry Blandina Nyoni made the remarks at the Commemoration of World Breast-feeding Week in Dar es Salaam, the local newspaper the Guardian reported on Sunday.

About 130 of the children below six months of age succumb to death every day as result of undernourishment, according to the records from the Ministry.

Nyoni said breast-feeding is the only solution to malnutrition, appealing to all breast-feeding mothers to breast feed their children up to the age of two.

A child should be exclusively breast-fed without giving him even water until reaching the age of six months, Nyoni said, adding that in case of sickness a doctor's recommendation should be sought.

She said the breast milk protects children from infections such as diarrhea, chest and ear infections, adding that breast-feeding helps delay a new pregnancy and creates a loving bond between mother and child.

Breast-feeding is the least expensive and most effective intervention for preventing malnutrition and serving children lives, according to Nyoni.

Nyoni further said recent research has shown that good breast- feeding practices can prevent one in eight child deaths and if breast-feeding mothers in the country are giving their babies breast milk, lives of 25 children of below six month could be saved everyday.

She said the research which was conducted in 2004 /2005 found that 38 out of 100 children of under the age five years are stunted and 72 out of 100 are anemic due to prolonged malnutrition, and the problems cause various negative effects in children that include sickness and death and also poor school performance at a later age.

Nyoni lamented that there are some cultural practices and traditions which encourage women not to breast feed their children.

She, however, said due to effective implementation of various measures concerning child health promotions that include malaria immunization, Vitamin A supplementation, de-worming and integrated treatment of young children, the country has succeeded in reducing under five child deaths from 147 to 81 in every 1, 000 live birth in 1999 to 2009 /2010.

The theme for this year's celebration of World Breast-feeding Week was "Just 10 Steps! Breast-feeding the Baby-Friendly Way."

Source: Xinhua


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