Cyprus Mail

Event this weekend to highlight benefits of breastfeeding

By Evie Andreou

Mothers with young children are invited to participate in the annual breastfeeding event taking place in all districts on Saturday, including the north, as part of efforts to raise awareness on the benefits.

The annual event is being organised for the 12th consecutive year by the Pancyprian Breastfeeding Association ‘Gift of Life’ in cooperation with the social solidarity programme ‘Symmetohi’ (Participation) of the dairy company Charalambides Christis Ltd. It is under the auspices of the health ministry and is part of the promotional activities of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).

The event is an international initiative, with similar ones being held by supporters of breastfeeding in more than 860 centres worldwide.

According to WABA, breastfeeding not only saves lives and money, it is the foundation of life. This year’s events focus on how breastfeeding helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security even in times of crisis, and breaks the cycle of poverty.

It added that the 823,000 child deaths, 20,000 maternal deaths, and $302 billion in economic losses each year are stark reminders of the current reality and that “all of these, and more, could be prevented by scaling up breastfeeding.”

This year, the World Health Assembly embraced the annual celebration of World Breastfeeding Week by its member states as a valuable way to advocate for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding everywhere.

According to Unicef and the World Health Organisation (WHO), “only about two out of five of all newborns are put to the breast within an hour of birth — and only 40 per cent of children under six months of age are exclusively breastfed.”

This, they said, is due to many reasons, among them, that women are given infant formula or other substitutes in maternity facilities, when they could be breastfeeding, while many women give birth without access to the quality care, counselling and support.

To encourage breastfeeding, the Global Breastfeeding Collective — a partnership of more than 20 international agencies and non-governmental organisations co-led by Unicef and WHO — calls for more action and investment in a number of areas. These recommendations include increased funding for comprehensive breastfeeding programmes, better monitoring systems to track breastfeeding trends, strengthened maternity and paternity leave provisions that encourage breastfeeding, and improved breastfeeding counselling and support in health facilities.

In Cyprus, three bills are before the House labour committee, the one aimed to protect breastfeeding mothers and encourage them to do so and the other two to amend the current legislation on protecting motherhood by extending the period by which employers are forbidden from firing mothers. The bills aim to make it an offence to prevent a mother, in any way possible, from breastfeeding in public.

The events in Cyprus begin at 11am at:

  • Nicosia: Philoxenia Conference Center, (Tel. 99 365414)
  • Limassol: Crown Plaza Hotel, (Tel. 25 570010
  • Larnaca: Med Schools of Larnaca, (Tel. 96 649737)
  • Paphos: Evangelismos Hospital, (Tel. 26 848000)
  • Famagusta: Town Hall of Paralimni, (Tel. 99 942776)
  • Kyrenia: Lord’s Palace Hotel, (Tel. 0090 533 865 0990)

Registrations are open until 10am on Saturday.


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