The Ministry of Health hosted its first-ever march on breastfeeding to sensitise the public about its benefits and how it can save lives on Friday morning. The march started at the Three Dikgosi monuments at the CBD and ended at the Railpark mall. The Ministry of Health’s Abiah Sebaka said one of their aims is to normalise breastfeeding in public so that breast feeding mothers are comfortable to breastfeed anywhere. “We also want to mobilise employers to create a baby friendly working environment that supports breastfeeding,” he said. He said it has been proven that children who are breastfed tend to maintain a healthy weight in the future and also have less risk of contracting diseases like diabetes.
He said global consensus has been reached on the benefits of breastfeeding with World Health Organisation (WHO) estimating that 1.5 million infants die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. “Between 2005 and 2006 in Botswana 500 babies died and all of them were formula fed. Those who were breastfed fell sick but survived,” he said. He said that rates of breastfeeding in Botswana are very low and currently at 20% exclusive breastfeeding for six months. He said this calls for concern because there is general lack of knowledge on breastfeeding. Desmond Lunga of Men and Boys Gender Equality sensitised men to be there for their women so that they also can share the same experience of breastfeeding. He recalled on how he used to be close to his wife when she was breastfeeding their little baby who would hold his finger while enjoying the milk.
“There is nothing amazing like seeing a child grow every day, and because of that milk,” he said. Lunga said he always gets sad to hear about cases of women stealing formula milk when they have the best free milk from their breasts. One of the young mothers Zizi (Yarona FM presenter) applauded the Ministry of Health and everyone that partnered with them for the day’s festivities. She applauded Tlokweng clinic and Bamalete Lutheran hospital which all made her understand the value of breastfeeding her child. Despite having a day job she made sure that she pumped the milk so that the baby can be able to feed all day.