Accra, July 31, GNA – Experts from the Family Health Division of Ghana Health Service (GHS) on Thursday urged breastfeeding mothers to observe the exclusive six month breast feeding.
This, they, said would promote both the health of their new-borns as well as the mothers.
According to them breastfeeding is a natural form of family planning and could save the woman from breast and ovarian cancers, and also bring the woman back to her normal shape.
Dr Isabella Sagoe-Moses, National Coordinator of Child Health, GHS, speaking at a media launch of 2015 World Breastfeeding Week, said safe and adequate breast feeding broadens the mind of babies and reduces obesity among children.
This year’s Breastfeeding Week, which falls on August 6 is on the theme: “Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s make it work.”
It would be climax by presentation of a petition to the Minister of Health to compel the government to ratify International Labour Organisation Convention 183 (ILO Convention 183)3 and recommendation Number 191.
ILO Convention 183, promulgated in 2000, calls for maternity protection for all women in both formal and informal economies, including those in critical forms of dependent work.
The recommendation number 191 specifies such works as “arduous work involving manual lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads, exposure to biological, chemical and physical agents, which represent a reproductive health hazards”.
The Convention has five core elements, namely, maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, health protection at the work place, employment protection and non-discrimination, and breastfeeding arrangements to help workers breastfeed or express milk at the work place for a period after returning to work.
Dr Sagoe-Moses said Ghana is not meeting the minimum requirement of the provision in the ILO Convention 183 and it is about time to make sure Ghana ratify the Convention to benefit all.
She therefore urged the media to collaborate with other breastfeeding advocates to educate the public, especially women to be abreast with their social rights under the Convention, while they dialogue with government to ratify it.
“Let’s collaborate to keep the issue high on government’s agenda through follow ups and engaging the parliamentarians, she added.
Ms Eunice Sackey, National Breastfeeding Coordinator, the global aim of maternity protection is to progressively extend maternity protection to all women workers, regardless of the type of paid work or employment status.
However, she said, ways in which women could be excluded from maternity protection are exclusion from the legal scope of national law, exclusion due to restrictive qualifying conditions and disconnection between law and practice.
She said while paid maternity leave is a necessary condition for women to breastfeed optimally, it is not a sufficient condition as they need time, space and support to make the cycle complete.
Ms Sackey said a research revealed that in addition to paid maternity leave, women need information and support during antenatal and post-natal period to address factors at individual, family and work place levels.
She therefore called on the trade unions to join the campaign and also have a direct role in negotiating adequate maternity entitlements and security of employment for women of reproductive age.
Ms Veronica Gomez, Infant and Young Child Feeding Consultant, said the maternity protection would help Ghana achieve the millennium development goals and urged parliament to facilitate the ratification of the Convention.
She said employers who support breastfeeding at work places report lower health cases, less absenteeism and higher productivity and encouraged all employers to promote safe and adequate breastfeeding at work places to achieve the maximum benefits.