PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai has said that draft bill of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition has been prepared and duly vetted by the Law Department which will soon be placed before the provincial cabinet for approval and then will be tabled in the provincial assembly for legislation.
He was addressing as chief guest at an advocacy seminar on “Saving Newborn Lives by Early Initiation of Breastfeeding” in Peshawar on Monday. The seminar was jointly arranged by Health, Education and Literacy Programme (HELP) and Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF).
The minister said the legislation would help ensure the fundamental right of breastfeeding to newborns and thus a healthy future of the new generation would be ensured. “Better healthcare of mothers and newborns is of prime importance for us and our government will take all the required measures to ensure the same,” he maintained.
Addressing the seminar, experts of the field highlighted medical, religious and other aspects of breastfeeding for the better health of newborns and to immune them against various diseases.
It was told that 10-15 per cent of children up to five years could be prevented by 90 per cent coverage with breastfeeding alone while 22 per cent of neonatal deaths can be prevented by starting breastfeeding in the first hour of life.
Sharing statistics about breastfeeding in Pakistan with the participants, the speakers told that only 27 per cent of women in Pakistan initiate breastfeeding in the first hour of life whereas 37 per cent practice exclusive breastfeeding and the figures are one of the lowest in South East Asia.
In the seminar, the provincial government was urged to make legislation for the protection of breastfeeding and child nutrition so that the practice of breastfeeding could be encouraged and all substitutes to breastfeeding could be discouraged to ensure the health of both the mothers and the newborns.
Shahram Khan emphasised the need of creating more and more awareness amongst the people and urged upon the doctors, ulema and media to play their vital role in encouraging breastfeeding and discouraging bottle feeding. Besides, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Social Welfare Dr Meher Taj Roghani the participants of the seminar were addressed by Dr Shabina Riaz, Dr Durre Samin Akram, Dr Tufail and other speakers.