Her Majesty, Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, yesterday emphasised the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to both the mother and child.
Addressing delegates to a special breakfast meeting in Maseru, Her Majesty said giving a child his or her mother’s milk only for the first six months after birth ensures better healthy, both mentally and physically.
Yesterday’s meeting looked at Lesotho’s 2014 Demographic Health Survey (LDHS) indicators, and was held under the theme: ‘Exclusive Breastfeeding is doable, Basotho you can do it’.
Her Majesty said: “Studies have shown that children who are exclusively breastfed have a better chance of survival compared to those who didn’t.”
Her Majesty also noted Breastfeeding Week is commemorated globally from 1-7 August and as patron of the initiative in Lesotho since 2004, she visits the country’s outlying districts and meets with mothers and the general public to talk about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding.
“One of the reasons for my visits to the districts is to try and encourage breastfeeding and monitor whether what we have been preaching for the past 10 years about it has been well-received by the people,” she said.
“I must say that I’m very proud of what we have achieved because from 2004 to 2014, there has been positive progress. In 2004, only 36 percent of mothers were exclusively breastfeeding, and in 2009, the number went up by 54 percent and in 2014, it had increased to 67 percent.
“With these numbers, it shows that our messages are reaching out to mothers and the public in general. It is my hope that by 2020, the figures would have gone up again. I will continue appealing to mothers to breastfeed their children and we must be able to reach the set international targets and standards.”
However, the Queen noted a lot still needs to be done to achieve the desired 100-percent target.
“I know we can do this and have children who are physically and mentally healthy.
“Let’s make it our responsibility, as parents, to ensure that our children grow-up in good health through undertakings such as breastfeeding,” Her Majesty said.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Molotsi Monyamane, congratulated those who have been educating mothers about the importance of breastfeeding.
“We also want to thank these individuals for championing men to encourage women to breastfeed their babies,” Dr Monyamane said.
“Without healthy children, we are not going to have a healthy nation.”
Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exclusive breastfeeding means an infant is only fed her mother’s milk, and no other liquids or solids. The child is not even given water to drink, with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops and syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines.
WHO also notes breastfeeding has many health benefits for both the mother and infant. “Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods, while continuing to breastfeed for up to two years or beyond,” WHO highlights.
“Breastfeeding protects against diarrhea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and may also have longer-term health benefits for the mother and child, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence.”
According to Her Majesty, it was “important that mothers practice what scientists suggest” as this benefits their families