Suriname, August 2, 2023 (PAHO) – The official opening of World Breastfeeding Week, with theme “Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work!” was hosted by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF at Diakonessenhuis Hospital in Suriname on August 2, 2023. This significant event aimed to raise awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and its impact on child health and development. The program brought together representatives from various organizations and government officials to share valuable insights, experiences, and recommendations regarding breastfeeding practices.
The event commenced with a warm welcome, accompanied by the Surinamese National Anthem, setting the tone for the proceedings. The Deputy Director of Administrative Services of Public Health, Mrs. Saridjan-Tjokro delivered the opening speech, emphasizing the significance of breastfeeding for the well-being of children. Following this, the head midwife at Diakonessenhuis Hospital addressed the audience, highlighting the institution's commitment to supporting breastfeeding initiatives.
"I think it's a fantastic initiative; we are actively working to make our hospital baby-friendly and obtain the proper certification. Every day, I experience that parents have a good understanding of breastfeeding, but the challenge arises when they have to return to their workplaces. Making workplaces more mother-friendly through designated lactation rooms is crucial. In the health sector, we are preparing mothers for breastfeeding, but the disappointment arises when a mother has to stop due to the lack of facilities and support at her workplace." - Griselda van der Leeuw, head midwife Diakonessenhuis Hospital
Aligned with this year’s theme, Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work! Staatsolie Maatschappij Suriname N.V., showcased best practices in promoting and supporting breastfeeding in the workplace. This presentation aimed to encourage more companies and institutions to create conducive environments for nursing mothers, enabling them to continue to pump their breastmilk and store it at a safe temperature to take home after work for their baby.
The opening of World Breastfeeding week in Suriname further included testimonials from two working nursing mothers, who shared their experiences of successfully balancing work and breastfeeding. Their stories highlighted the importance of supportive workplaces and emphasized how breastfeeding positively impacted both their children's health and their own well-being.
Dr. Noreen Jack, the representative from PAHO/WHO, delivered an insightful speech, shedding light on the global importance of breastfeeding and the initiatives taken by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to promote breastfeeding as an essential element of child health and development.
As we commemorate World Breastfeeding Week 2023 with the theme 'Let's make breastfeeding and work, work!' I want to emphasize that women should never have to choose between breastfeeding and their careers. Supportive workplaces are essential, and together, we can build a healthier future for all." – Dr. Noreen Jack, PAHO/WHO Representative Suriname
Mr. Nicolas Pron, the UNICEF representative for Guyana & Suriname, also shared valuable information on the organization's efforts to support breastfeeding programs worldwide.
Director of Health, Ministry of Health Dr. Rakesh Gajadhar Sukul, delivered a key address, reaffirming the government's commitment to promoting breastfeeding. Acknowledging the valuable contributions of healthcare workers, Dr. Sukul praised their dedication and hard work in educating expectant and new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding.
The program also underscored the significance of breastfeeding in improving child health and nutrition. Some key facts presented during the event included:
- Malnutrition accounts for 45% of child mortality cases globally.
- In 2020, approximately 149 million children under the age of 5 were stunted, 45 million were wasted, and 38.9 million were overweight or obese.
- Only 44% of infants aged 0-6 months are exclusively breastfed.
- Few children receive nutritious and safe complementary feeding, with less than a quarter of infants aged 6-23 months meeting the appropriate criteria for feeding diversity and frequency.
Breastfeeding offers numerous benefits to both infants and mothers. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months provides protection against gastrointestinal infections and reduces newborn mortality. Breastfeeding supplies energy and nutrients to children aged 6-23 months, contributing to their healthy growth and development. Additionally, breastfeeding benefits mothers by improving their health and well-being. To support optimal breastfeeding, policymakers, marketing regulations, and community support play vital roles in promoting breastfeeding as a fundamental right for children.
Breastfeeding is a crucial aspect of a child's early development, providing essential nutrients and antibodies that contribute to their overall health and well-being. Moreover, it fosters a strong emotional bond between the child and the mother, enhancing their attachment and emotional connection.
“For mothers, breastfeeding offers various benefits too. Not only does it provide a cost-effective way to nourish the child, but it also reduces the risk of certain cancers in mothers. Additionally, breastfeeding-friendly workplaces enable mothers to continue breastfeeding even when they return to work, ensuring the child's well-being.” – Dr. Demidof, Family Community Health at Public Health
In conclusion, the opening of World Breastfeeding Week 2023 in Suriname, with theme Let’s make breastfeeding and work, work! at Diakonessenhuis Hospital marked a crucial step towards creating awareness about the significance of breastfeeding for child health and development. By promoting optimal breastfeeding practices and implementing supportive policies, Suriname aims to improve child nutrition, reduce child mortality, and contribute to the overall well-being of mothers and their infants.