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South Africa must become a breastfeeding friendly nation says First Lady

Friday, 2nd August 2019

Kalafong Hospital in Gauteng celebrated World Breastfeeding Week 2019 (1 – 7 August) yesterday with a series of dialogues about breastfeeding. First Lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe emphasised 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*.

The event which forms part of the centenary celebration of Save the Children, was hosted by Save the Children South Africa in partnership with the South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR), South African Civil Society for Women's Adolescent's and Children's Health (SACSoWACH) and the National Department of Health. Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize and other government representatives also participated in the dialogues.

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. Donated breastmilk is the most valuable food that can be given to babies born prematurely who receive intensive care in hospital neonatal units.

“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 Jordan, executive director of SABR. “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life is the single best way to fight infection and malnutrition. 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,” she continues.

To become involved in alleviating the challenges faced by the SABR, such as sourcing donor mothers and funding for the operation of their milk banks and future breastfeeding and expressing rooms, please visit www.sabr.org.za or call 011 482 1920 or e-mail: info@sabr.org.za.