83% of women exclusively breastfeed infants in Burundi

Fidèle Nkezabahizi, Director of the National Integrated Program of Food and Nutrition in the Ministry of Public Health said about 78% of urban women exclusively breastfeed their infants up to six months. “They are estimated at 86% in rural areas”. He said it during a media workshop preparing the launch of the World Breastfeeding Week this November 26, which will be celebrated in Ngozi province, on November 29.

A breastfeeding woman

Mr. Nkezabahizi said even though those figures showed that they exclusively breastfeed their infants, those women need to be supported. “Men don’t help their spouses in domestic activities”, he said adding that they don’t even eat well. “Their diet isn’t well=balanced”, he said.

Fidèle Nkezabahizi also said employers don’t facilitate their breastfeeding employees. “They don’t give them enough time to breastfeed their infants”, he said. For him, family members should support and encourage breastfeeding. “This will contribute to the country’s development as children will grow up healthy,” he concluded.

According to WHO, breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. Increasing breastfeeding to near-universal levels could save more than 800, 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months. It is estimated that increased breastfeeding could avert 20 000 maternal deaths due to breast cancer each year.

WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding starting within one hour after birth until a baby is 6 months old. Nutritious complementary food should then be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.