MANILA, Aug. 4 — Husbands of breastfeeding mothers play a key role in ensuring the success of a country’s breastfeeding program, Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial has said.
“As mentioned by World Health Organization (WHO) country director, Dr. (Gundo) Weiler, the husband is important in the formula (for a successful breastfeeding program),” Ubial said during Thursday’s ASEAN Breastfeeding Forum, held in Blue Leaf Filipinas in Parañaque City.
Apart from the husband, the workplace and the environment likewise need to be supportive of breastfeeding women, she said.
She further said that health workers need to be capacitated so they could help promote breastfeeding among women, including girls who would one day become mothers.
In its Global Breastfeeding Scorecard 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that after evaluating 194 nations, it found that only 40 percent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively. It also stated that while 70 percent of children are still breastfed at the age of one, only about 45 percent are still breastfed at the age of two.
The WHO recognizes breastfeeding as “one of the most effective investments a country can make” to ensure a smarter and healthier population, as it protects children from numerous illnesses, increases IQ, and promotes a strong bond between mother and infant.
During the forum, Weiler noted that many people still believe in the superiority of infant formula over breast milk.
“Of course this is a belief that is supported by marketing strategies (of milk companies),” he said.
“There is a need for a change of culture to make sure that breastfeeding is available in the Philippines and all other countries. And we all have a role to play in this,” he said, calling on health ministers of ASEAN member states attending the forum to share and learn from one another’s experiences to strengthen their respective breastfeeding programs.
Health experts from ASEAN member states are in the country to prepare the declaration on ending all forms of malnutrition, which will be elevated for adoption during the ASEAN Summit this November.
The forum is part of promoting a people-centered and people-oriented ASEAN as the Philippines hosts the ASEAN forum during the bloc’s 50th founding anniversary this year.