Breastfeeding Programs In Africa Will Lead To Poverty Reduction, Increase Child Survival And Keeping Mothers Alive.

Nevson Mpofu

The GLOBAL 2018 Theme for Breastfeeding is BREASTFEEDING– FOUNDATION FOR LIFE.  The World is working hard to achieve Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] .To show its commitments. ZIMBABWE is part and parcel of SCALING UP NUTRITION MOVEMENT [SUN] formed in 2010.

Currently Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations scaling up Nutrition Alliance [ZCSOSUNA] are scaling up Nutrition sensitive interventions with a network of its various stakeholders. The ‘hot’ topic is on the 1st 1000 days as African Governments are urged to look more on Breastfeeding than politics.

The First 1000 days of an infant baby’s survival and life are being sustained. They stand crucial as Nutrition security and Food security are to be heightened by Command Agriculture and NUTRITION scaling up programs .How-ever , African Governments needs to increase budget and scale up Nutrition for child survival .

In the 1st 1000 days, great continuum of care, empathy and financial support is no doubt to ignore .There is need to scale up Nutrition as we support Food and Nutrition security to eliminate stunting .Stunting occurs when a child lacks nutritious food . He or she in life becomes shorter than his or her expected age .If given all the necessary food requirements in what is called Balanced Diet, there is no stunting.

An Expert in the field of Nutrition, Kudakwashe Zombe advocates Scaling Up Nutrition as the great way forward in the nourishment of health for babies. They need continuum care as they grow up in well-balanced diet.  It is true since it is needed for growth, body function, metabolism and body health  ,maintenance and improvement.

‘Our voice is to African Governments to put more budgets on Nutrition. A Dollar spent on Nutrition in return comes with a profit of 16 Dollars .Therefore Investments in Nutrition returns more for Economic Growth and community development.

‘’We are Civil Society in Nutrition working on Scaling up Nutrition. We save children as enshrined in Convention on the Rights of the Child articles. Protocols must be followed by all countries in the Scaling up Nutrition Movement.

‘We stand for this cause to push for technical and financial support .We also call for a balanced budget spared on nutrition , to net-work, capacitate knowledge on Nutrition security and to bring advocacy and communication .’’He said.


Several diseases and conditions in line with Malnutrition namely kwashiorkor, marasmus, pellagra, anemia, scurvy .rickets and under- growth condition are called stunting.  These are a threat to achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Research must be highly linked to Infant survival; a goal key to Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations .As long Nutrition targets are not met, certain goals of the United Nations won’t be realized. Prevalence rate of absolute poverty, that is lack of 3 basic needs increases.

Although Zimbabwe has done better on Millennium Development Goals 2 Achieving Universal Primary Education and 3 on Gender equality, more was meant to focus on goal 4 on improving Infant Mortality. Also there was need to look at Goal 5 on Maternal mortality and on Goal 6 , HIV and AIDS. Much still need to be improved on Sustainable Development Goals .Such is the focus on Breastfeeding.

On the sideline of Sustainable Development Goals, ZCSUNA Chairperson, Tendai Gunda is much concerned of infants’ survival chances through adequate nutrition .This must be in communities where some people are marginalized.

‘’Zimbabwe must work hard on areas of child mortality and maternal mortality.  Countries must score on Sustainable Development Goals .Millennium ones, Goals 4 and 5 on the 2 areas, child mortality reduction and maternal mortality were not well done with in many developing countries.’’

‘As a nation, the need for scaling up nutrition is no doubt a priority since we are part of the scaling up nutrition Movement. We also need to network, communicate, advocate and capacitate knowledge on Nutrition’, .

There is no perfect food more than breast milk from mothers .In fact policy issues must be dealt with in-order for us to push and succeed on all we need and work towards.’’ ‘she said .



Breast milk is a universal vital component for babies is essential in combating diarrheal diseases. It increases the baby’s survival chances. Apart from these advantages, there are some outstanding advantages which stand to keep the baby always health of which breast feeding experts have explored. Therefore, a dollar spent on Child Nutrition offers more benefit to humanity than any other form of Investment. A dollar spent in return is 16 US dollars in profit.

On winning a goal for life, it is crucial to understand the past, plan for the future and celebrate 10 years of Global strategies on breastfeeding. In this age we are, breastfeeding developments are growing up at a time we are facing the adversities .These are HIV and AIDS, Climate Change and Variation which cause disasters, natural and man-made, famine, drought and floods.

On grounds of certainty, it is not the fault of the mother alone for the baby to be infected. On the level of fair talk, It is the male parent who infects the female parent. Also fathers might have been infected by some women/woman in sexual concurrent partnerships. HIV TRANSMISSION IS A VICIOUS CIRCLE.

Some men are drug users who use injections; some may be gays, like wise lesbians who are women, but the point is, its more for gays who in USA spread GRIDS [Gay related Immune Deficiency Syndrome]. From homosexual sex point of view, the virus can infect either of the parents.

Heterosexual activities are KEY transmitters in HIV and AIDS in KEY POPULATIONS. This comes later to be an effect to those babies. They become victims because of their parents who got infected during unprotected sexual intercourse and unplanned marriage as the fact might be.


The human immune virus is transmitted from the parent (in this respect) the mother) through 3 ways. First, it is during pregnancy Secondly, during birth and lastly during breastfeeding. The baby gets mainly transmitted the virus through the vaginal canal at a time of giving birth followed by breast feeding and lastly while in the womb .


Mothers upon arrival at Ante-Natal clinics according to HIV Testing Services and Maternal policies, they get tested.  HIV POSITIVE pregnant mothers are – medically advised to use ARVs like Nevirapine which suppresses the virus. This is advised with their infants. Blood testing is very important to be taken regularly when mothers are pregnant. Exclusive Breastfeeding is recommended for the 1st six weeks even if the mother is positive to HIV .

The PPTCT – Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission program was first introduced in 1999 initially by ZVITAMBO PROJECT until it spreads into clinics and hospitals and taken up by some Civil Society. Up to now it has rose to greater heights. One organization at International level is Elizabeth Glacier Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

From a baby care initiative point of view, it is the right of the baby for him/her to be protected and prevented from the virus spread which causes AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is when CD4 count goes down to below 250 cells / ml of blood . Despite the threat of the virus, mothers are advised to breastfeed the first hour of birth. After that there is advice for mothers to continue breastfeeding taking into consideration the first 1000 days.

The first six months are biologically important, this infancy stage. Mothers are advised to breastfeed exclusively although positive. Exclusive breastfeeding is important because breast milk is completely perfect for babies. It provides all nutrients and water babies need during the first six months. Colostrum, the first milk is essential because it protects the baby from many diseases, boosting immunity and strengthening the body.

A senior Nutritionist Monica Muti from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, contacted for a vibrant comment pointed out that it is important to practice breastfeeding because it protects babies from diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. She even gave a deep meaning of Exclusive Breastfeeding.

“It means giving milk only and nothing else, not even water sips, except for prescribed medicines by doctors. This goes on in hot or cold weather for about 6 months .After 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, 70 to 100% must be mother’s milk.”

“Breast milk can contain HIV if the mother is infected.  The virus can pass through breast milk. Exclusive breastfeeding reduces chances of a baby becoming infected and it increases chances of survival of babies” she stressed out clearly.

Mother to baby empathy binds the two such that their relationship moulds time and gain. During this time mothers breasts are fully solid with milk. They first produce maternal oxytocin which stimulate milk and attracts baby attention.

The Nutritionist further pointed out that after six months of birth, babies can feed on soft baby prepared food like porridge. This is called supplementary feeding. This may include bottled milk, mealie-meal, porridge mixed with peanut butter or margarine. Despite this 70%-100% must be breast milk.

In 1998 World health Organisation (WHO) concluded, “When children born to women living with HIV can be ensured  uninterrupted access to nutritionally adequate breast milk substitutes that are safely prepared and fed to them, they are at less risk of illness and death. However if these conditions are not nullified, in particular in an environment where infectious diseases and malnutrition are primary causes of death during infancy, artificial feeding substantially increases children’s risk of illness and death.’’

According to research findings since time immemorial, infants who do not get adequate nutrition suffer from marasmus and kwashiorkor. Infantile marasmus is often caused by premature weaning from breast milk. Supplements from other sources deprive infants of necessary calories and proteins.

Kwashiorkor affects a child who is weaned to a diet sufficient in calories but deficient in proteins and nitrogen .This condition comes under diseases related to malnutrition which are common in many developing countries .These fall under banana republic’s South of America, Southern and Eastern Africa, Central Europe and Asia and some Island parts of the world.

Depriving infants mother’s milk is an unhealthy situation because the milk contains docosahexia aenoic and acidonic acid which energises, strengthens muscles, activates brains and improves sight. Also present is calcium which moulds bones and strengthens teeth.

Breastfeeding extends post partum infertility by delaying ovulation and reducing menstruation and normally women do not menstruate during breastfeeding. Women who have breast fed have lower chances of suffering from breast cancer @ the same time their babies have more chances of survival.

Breastfeeding gives mothers spacing time thereby reducing fertility leading to planned ways of giving birth.

Experts of sundry dimensions had a lot to say, a Medical Doctor, Portia Manangazira pointed out.

“Breastfeeding increases an infant’s survival chances. Infants’ breastfed during the first two months of birth have only 37% risk of death. It is important in countries with high mortality rates especially in Africa, south of the Sahara”, she said.

Some experts have viewed breastfed infants as more boxum and smarter than any other infants. However, in this era of HIV and AIDS inspite of its presence, women being positive or not are highly advised to breastfeed exclusively especially the first six months after birth and look beyond 1000 days, that is the first 3 years of life. .

On a higher note concerning women health, it is a fact that women who lose blood during child birth suffer anemia. It  is defined as red blood cells or oxygen carrying capacity insufficient to meet psychological needs which vary by age, sex attitude ,smoking and pregnancy status. According to this journalist’s qualitative research, women of age 15 to 49 years are 28% anemic.

When mothers are said to be anemic, it means they lack iron which is important in mostly breast feeding mothers .Iron deficiency in lactating mothers leads to reduction in immunity to certain extent that they give room to HIV, that is if they engage in unprotected sex when they are pregnant or before it.. This is called Iron Deficiency Anemia.



The other type of anemia is vitamin B12 Foliate Deficient Anemia. Foliate is from folic acid which helps tissues grow and cells work. Symptoms of anemia are energy loss, rapid heartbeat, difficult breath, headache, dizziness, pale skin, leg cramps and insomnia which is lack of sleep. Lactating women who suspect these symptoms must immediately visit the Medical Doctor for diagnosis of anemia.


Mothers are recommended to get straight advice from doctors and nutritionists for more information on nutrition guidelines. However the code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes and Infant Regulation recommends breastfeeding mothers not to use bottled milk the first six months. Even if it is to be used there are particular guidelines to be followed.

Author can be contacted via emai;

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