The Jharkhand government has launched an awareness drive across all districts to make women aware about correct breastfeeding practices to mark the World Breastfeeding Week commencing today.
Concerned that the state lags behind in the breastfeeding indicator in the country, the state government has decided to make people aware about the benefits of early breastfeeding along with other aspects such as institutional deliveries, said Dr Pravin Chandra, director state health services.
“All districts have been instructed to conduct meetings at the panchayat levels and different activities have been planned for each day of the week,” he said
The Rapid Survey on Children, 2013-14, conducted by the union ministry of women and child development, states that early initiation of breastfeeding in Jharkhand is 32.7%, which is far below the national average of 50.2%.
Only 64.3% of babies are exclusively breastfed during the first six months in the state, while continuation of breastfeeding along with complementary feeding is 35.7%, the survey said.
Dr Anubha Vidyarthi, senior gynecologist at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), said that poverty and illiteracy are the primary reasons for the state to fare badly in terms of poor breastfeeding and nutrition indicators.
“Lack of breastfeeding reduces immunity of a child as the colostrum contains all the essential nutrients for the new born baby. If the baby is not breastfed, it can have an effect on the overall growth of the child. This can further lead to malnutrition among children,” she said.
She further suggested that continuous screening programmes should be conducted in villages for diseases such as thalassemia and anaemia. “Paramedical staff should sensitise people using pictorial tools in remote villages and also make people aware about the importance of vaccination and hygiene,” she said.
“The government’s efforts for nutrition begin only after children reach the age of five and start going to school, while the while maximum growth among children takes place before they are five years old.
Mahadev Hansda of Save the Children NGO, said that the organization has collaborated with the National Health Mission to carry out a campaign in Dumka and Jamtara districts.
“We carry out follow up ante natal check up and counseling of mothers and family members of children for four years and it has brought about positive change in the region,” he said.
The endline survey in Nala block in Jamtara has revealed that 98% of women feed colostrum to children as compared to 54% earlier. In Dumka ‘s Saraiyahaat 91% of women feed colostrum as compared to 62% earlier, he said.