Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Breast Milk Advocates Evaluate Global Partnerships In Douala
By Martin Nkematabong
The national networking group of infant and young child feeding in Cameroon has urged the government to formulate strategies aimed at sustaining breastfeeding during emergencies. The network met at its 6th ordinary general assembly session in Douala neighbourhood of Bonamikano. Some 27 delegates of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, (FECABPA) operating in the South, Center, Littoral North west and South West regions of Cameroon on Saturday April 24, 2010 converged at the Women Gender Council Counselling Centre in Bonamikano , Bonassama health district in Douala to examine progress made in 2009, through maternal care and infant nutrition programs, to improve on the lives of mothers and children in their respective local communities.
The community health advocates network coordinated by Cameroon Link, an international health NGO in Bonaberi-Douala, also discussed plans to celebrate the 2010 world breastfeeding week, as well as evaluate bilateral cooperation with global partners such as the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA).
After an in-depth review of their 2009 activities, both at national and international levels, the conference participants noted that enormous progress is being made to protect mothers and their babies from health crisis, which often result from unhealthy nutrition habits and commercial campaigns.
In his speech, the national coordinator of Cameroon Link, James Achanyi -Fontem, reiterated the fact that human milk is the ideal nourishment for infants' survival, growth and development; that exclusive breastfeeding within the first six months of life stimulates babies' immune systems and protects them from diarrhea and acute respiratory infections -two of the major causes of infant mortality in the developing world, and improves their responses to vaccination. He said in unhygienic conditions, breast milk substitutes carry a high risk of infection and can be fatal in infants.
Mr. Achanyi added that pictures of disasters, including volcanoes, uncontrollable fire outbreaks, earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis are ruffling infants around the world, even when they occur on the opposite side of the globe. He said because these catastrophes naturally affect the quality of water, medical care, food, shelter and other basic necessities, breast milk remains a lifesaving intervention for every child. The speaker added that women need permanent and active support in order to guarantee breastfeeding during emergencies.
The Coordinator of WABA Men’s Working Group and Focal Point for IBFAN Cameroon informed members that the 8th Conference of IBFAN Africa has been scheduled in the month of September 2010 in Mauritius Island and that members should start scouting funds for their travel, accommodation and other issues. The theme of the conference has been announced as, “Breastfeeding, Child Survival and the Role of Infant and Young Child Feeding”.
Meantime, WABA also announced some key events following the WABA Steering Committee Meeting held in October 2009 including the Global Breastfeeding Partners’ Meeting (GBPM) from 17th to 20th October 2010 under the theme "Enabling Mothering: Keeping Mothers and Babies together".
The International Coordinator of the World Breastfeeding Week, Julianna Lim Abdullah reported from WABA Secretariat that WBW celebrants in 2009 were from over 170 countries and that more than 500 events took place globally involving more than 800,000 celebrants. The 2009 WBW was described as the greatest outreach event in its history.
The theme/slogan for WBW 2010 decided by the WABA Steering Committee at its October 2009 meeting is “Breastfeeding - Just 10 Steps! The Baby-Friendly Way.” The general assembly session in Douala was full of fruitful exchanges and learning opportunities, as participants listened to three presentations on breastfeeding and kangaroo care, how to consume fruits and a demonstration on the use of female condom. Details on the presentations can be watched on the YouTube at- http://uk.youtube.com/camlink99/ The breastfeeding song loaded on the Cameroon Link YouTube has been watched by over 8.000 viewers.