'Breast-feeding is first right of mother and child'

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Bhopal, July 31 (UNI) Breast-feeding is the first right of both mother and child and that is the message which a non-government organisation (NGO) wishes to convey on the eve of World Breast-Feeding Week.

''Groups will go to Madhya Pradesh's villages for generating awareness of the importance of feeding the infant with mother's milk just after birth. Every village headman will be briefed on the matter,'' Child Rights Observatory Secretary Sheela Bhambhal said at a press conference here.

During the next seven days, contact would be established with mothers at every delivery centre and the women aided in feeding their offspring within an hour of delivery.

''The NGO's members will be accompanied by officials of the Bharatiya Stanpan Samvardhak Network, UNICEF and state Public Health and Family Welfare and Woman and Child Development departments besides academicians and intellectuals,'' she added.

Women, child development and health workers would be trained through satellite uplink and Doordarshan.

''Just a few drops of colustrum, present in mother's milk for three days after childbirth, enhances the infant's disease-resistance. National Family Health Survey statistics are startling as they reveal that only 16 per cent of mothers feed their babies within an hour of birth,'' Dr Bhambhal said.

Claiming that Infant Mortality Rate could be slashed by 22 per cent if mother's milk was preferred over honey, jaggery water or tea, she added that less than 50 per cent mothers provided semi-solid food to babies over six months old.

''Canned milk, used by working mothers, should be discouraged.

Nipples and bottles are sources of infection. Workplaces should have arrangements such that a mother is able to breast-feed her child.

Thirteen per cent mothers are unable to lactate,'' the activist said.

UNI AKS-AC 1837

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