Somalia to create breastfeeding-friendly environments
Published: Aug 02, 2022 08:57 PM
Somalia and two United Nations agencies on Monday vowed to step up efforts to ensure breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies in all health facilities and workplaces in the country.

The Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, and UNICEF said national efforts will be stepped up with the main goal to increase the number of babies aged 0-6 months old who are exclusively breastfed to above 50 percent by 2025.

Somalian Minister of Health and Human Services Fawziya Abikar Nur said breastfeeding must be considered a public health issue that requires ­capacity and education at all levels.

"All the support systems, from the family, community, and health facilities, should be educated and capacitated to support mothers to optimally breastfeed their babies," Nur said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to mark the World Breastfeeding Week.

According to the latest government data, only 34 percent of babies under 6 months are exclusively breastfed.

The ministry and the UN agencies said breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies would help improve exclusive breastfeeding rates among Somali women and ­adequate nutrition and health among Somali children in both the 

short and long terms.

This is part of a global call to action to "Step up for breastfeeding: educate and support," they said.

World Breastfeeding Week comes at a time when Somalia is witnessing an increase in child malnutrition, including a reduction in infant and young child feeding practices, due to steep declines in household incomes, among other challenges.

Shocks such as drought, flooding, conflict, displacement, and disease outbreaks like measles and ­COVID-19 have deepened inequalities and resulted in nutrition insecurity, said the UN agencies.