Lobby pushes for exclusive breastfeeding among Gabonese women

Libreville- Gabon (PANA) -- Only 8 percent of babies between 0 and 4 months get exclusive breastfeeding in Gabon, says the president of the Gabonese association for the promotion of breastfeeding (AGPAI), Marcelle Epoulou, who nonetheless insists this is a great improvement from what obtained in the past.
"In the 1980s, the situation was alarming in Gabon, as almost all children were fed with artificial milk," Notes Epoulou, who is also head of the nutrition department at the ministry of Health.
"At that time, 50 percent of 0 to 28-week old babies suffered from neonatal diarrhoea," the mother of three recalls, pointing an accusing finger at profit-bent diary companies whose bogus TV commercials and giant posters "mislead many women.
" AGAPAI was created in the late 1980s to "remind women that breast milk is best for the baby, as it does not cost anything, contains a large treasury of antibodies, vitamins and other nutritive substances that ensure natural vitality and growth," Epoulou told PANA.
She maintains that it is thanks to the initiative that some Gabonese women were switching to breastfeeding, with about eight percent of them doing so fully while others practise both breastfeeding and the use of artificial milk.
She acknowledges support from UNICEF, thanks to which the authorities have barred the distribution and advertisement of artificial milk in paediatric and maternal health centres.
The aim is to encourage the use of local food items such as mashed potato, taro (cocoyams), yam, vegetable, maize flour or rice, peanut butter and other foodstuff as substitutes for breast milk after the first 4 or 5 months.

16 february 2003 17:24:00




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