THE United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) says  one out of four Zimbabwean children is suffering from chronic under-nutrition and only breastfeeding can end the problem.

Marking the International Day of Breastfeeding, Unicef said breastfeeding also protects children against illness.

 “Nearly one child out of four Zimbabwean children is suffering from chronic under-nutrition and does not grow and develop to its full potential.

“While the causes of malnutrition are complex, it is proven exclusive breastfeeding till the age of six months is a key factor to prevent malnutrition and ensuring young children get a good start in life. Breastmilk is the only food that a baby needs for the first six months of its life.

“It ensures adequate physical growth and cognitive development of the child, helps prevent malnutrition, provides immunity and protects young children against infections, illness and is readily available and it forms a unique biological and emotional basis for the health of both mother and child,” Unicef said.

Addressing journalists in Harare on Monday, advocacy and communications officer in the ministry of Health, Chj Chikanda said there was a need for organisations to introduce breastfeeding rooms at work places.

 “Zimbabwe is a breast feeding country and we are guided by our infant nutrition regulations. What we want to do is to promote work places to be baby friendly. 

“We advocated and now our Parliament has got a breastfeeding room, we are hoping that more organisations will follow suit in making their work places baby friendly.

 “Breast feeding is not only a health thing but multi-sectoral thing. Everyone has to come to play.

“What we did is we go to companies, we went to Larfage, we spoke to them about the importance of breast feeding and they really developed their work place to be baby friendly where mothers can breastfeed at work.  

 “We are trying to use peer support where companies will feel the pressure  to say if such a company has managed to come up with a baby-friendly environment, why can’t we do it also,” Chikanda said.

World Health Organisation (WHO) technical advisor on family  and reproductive  Health Zvakanaka Sithole said baby milk formula should be used as a last resort.  

“We don’t recommend the use of infant formula milk, but if it is the last resort that is available then we can use it.

 “If a mother is not able to take care of the child, another competent, fair person should be identified. We need support from the family and from the communities,” Sithole said. – Daily News