By Nevson Mpofu.
UNICEF, ILO and World Health Organization are currently supporting and promoting Maternity protection initiatives and protection of the Rights of women and men in terms of maternity and paternity at the workplace. This is in line with the Breastfeeding Care initiatives. This is accompanied with curricula development and training of Health care workers and Infant Feeding in Emergencies in the context of HIV and AIDS.
In buttress to these initiatives, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and the Government of Zimbabwe have wholly put effort in full support of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk substitutes. UNICEF Country Representative in Zimbabwe , Mohamed Ayoya said workplace policies, family and complimentary policies are the strong pillars to way forward Breastfeeding programs in the country.
UNICEF, ILO and WHO are the three UN partners working towards policy development at workplaces. Complementary Breastfeeding policies stand important in strengthening babies and children’s health .However, for these programs to see the light of the day there is need for a robust curricula , trainings , facilities and well informed communication in communities .
The Expert pointed out again that there is crucial need to achieve national and global targets as a monitor and meter in the implementation and success of the work done. He added that these special targets must be centered on vulnerable and excluded children who need all the vital support from UNICEF.
‘’Working on these targets, we reach vulnerable and the excluded who must be the exact beneficiaries of the programs. We strive to improve breastfeeding supportive workplace. Also men must be involved in paternity care to take leave days and work towards the care and support of the baby until they are children.
‘’UNICEF, therefore calls the support of men with pregnant mothers to care together as one family. This makes us reach greater heights whereby we increase exclusive breastfeeding with the help of both parents in knowledge sharing and baby care until the end of the 1000 days of their life ‘’.However there are social and economic barriers to this . We need to tackle such barriers, he said.
Setting the pace forward its move to the discussion , Tendai Murahwa a Nutrition expert who works for CIMAS said there must be flexible schedules for breastfeeding . She talked of change in shifts from night to morning , the existence of nursing rooms at workplaces centrally located with adequate lightning , well ventilated comfortable private rooms .
‘’Women must be given time to go for supported maternity and health birth. There must be ample time for them to comfort the new born, to care and support the baby with the help of the paternal parent. ‘’Workplaces need to have nursing mother rooms which are smart, with water, electricity, refrigerated and quite comfortable.
‘’The whole story is accompanied by breastfeeding policies at work. These policies must be in line with good work conditions, maternity leave, fair decisions, to support workers and avoid harassments .This is in line with supportive workplace environment with appropriate facilities for better Health.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION DIRECTOR Hopolang Phororo said ILO is concerned with the welfare and rights of women at the workplace. In line with that they have Global policies , guidelines , and Legislation to make the work move on lightly .There are 830 million women workers .In-line with this ILO provides Maternal protection Guidelines. At the same time it comes up with feasible options for women at work. We help in policy and Legislation crafting at Global levels working together with partners in this area .These must focus on paid maternity leave, Rights of those on this leave.
‘’As ILO we have done much , only that we need to harness men as well to get together with women in the battle to see to it on the welfare and rights of women . The only weapon is crucial Legislation, policy framework and guidelines. ‘Our challenges are the barriers to such issues. This is mainly because of culture and tradition especially in African and Asian countries. There is more needed on awareness, sensitization and advocacy to increase community support. Lastly the Global strategy is always headway forward’’.
Another Expert Kudakwashe Zombe from a Nutrition and Health Civil Society Organization called ZICOSUNA gave the education those Investments in Breastfeeding increases the Gross Domestic Product provided there are policies put in place. He however added that there are opportunities which increase impacts in any country that invests in nutrition.
‘’It is important to invest in nutrition but communities must do this first of all looking at the 1000 days, looking towards the growth of the child . These Investments boosts the Gross Domestic Product of any country be it developed or developing .The future of health education is seen in the success of these days.
‘’For every dollar we invest in nutrition we expect to get 16, 00 dollars. This tells more about developing countries in terms of health. As long as we reach such levels we see the rise in Gross Domestic Product of the country. This leads to poverty reduction. However there are opportunities related to increasing funding on breastfeeding initiatives.
WORLD HEATH ORGANISATION [WHO] Officer In Charge Juliet Nabyonga added that there are opportunities related to social behavior change communication, implementation of International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk substitutes. Countries as well must follow on WHO guidelines, policies and strengthen monitoring systems.
‘’Besides all we know of , let us be in awareness , sensitization and advocacy , follow guidelines , policies and the Legislation and track progress made by end of the day . Many African countries have done a lot of programs and multi-faceted interventions to focus on the Heath of the baby in the first 1000 days.
‘’Well fed babies grow up strong, buxom with good health. This tells a lot about their future. Children need good nutrition so that there are no diseases related to Malnutrition which relates to shortage of nutrients for better health.
‘’Children who grow up impacted in terms of nutrition have low levels of better performance. This can be an impact to education sector in the country. The only solution is to promote Health Education through Food Security ‘’, she said.
Nutrition enables development of the immune system and develops the brain. According to research carried out, children with poor nutrition have less chances of doing well in school. High mortality rates of infants and children are attributed to poor nutrition. This increases high health care costs, disease prevalence rates, and illness and reduce the workforce therefore leading to low Gross Domestic Product. The economy of China for example in terms of Gross Domestic Product costs 60 billion US Dollars because of poor access to Nutrition services .China with a population of 1 billion people is one of the developed countries of the world but it needs more Food Security to remain sustainable .
Lack of good nutrition leads to low nutritional status . This causes Stunting , that is too short for age . Secondly it leads to wasting , thin for the height and under-weight , too thin for age . Early breastfeeding provides new born with colostrum . It is key for Infant Immunity growth for the defense of child hood diseases . It is fortunate enough that 98% Infants are ever fed with breast milk . Children 6 to 23 months should receive 4 or more food groups daily . There is minimum frequency in breastfeeding as the child gets older .
Globally poor nutrition contributes 35% to 45% death of children under the age of 5 years . It also contributes to 40% maternal death. Despite the fact that the world population is at 7 and half billion ,there is need to keep mothers alive by promoting maternal heath through policy implementation , promoting breastfeeding and educating communities on Nutrition . The problem of vitamin deficiency continues to increase. Vitamin A deficiency at 21 percent. HIV positive people have higher prevalent rate of 25 percent negative 21 percent due to lack of better Nutrition services . It is also high in rural areas by 25% , 11 percent in urban areas , high in females 23 percent in ages 48 to 59 years , 24 to 35 years and 15 to 49years .
The last challenge in conclusion to the research study by manly UNICEF and WHO is that of ANEMIA. Under Maternal Nutrition Health Anemia is high in women and children due to lack of Iron which leads to IRON DEFIC IENCY . The research documents that 24% of women and children born lack IRON and FOLATE , a big challenge which leads to anemia in pregnant women . It is also stated that 8% of them have anemia. This quickly expose them to Malaria there by leading to Maternal and Child Mortality rates especially in developing countries of the World .