Role of Breastfeeding in the context of Covid-19

Covid-19 Health

By: Tebogo Msimanga

South  Africa commemorates  World  Breastfeeding  Week  (1-7  August),  a global campaign to demonstrate sustained commitment to protect, support and promote breastfeeding as a key child survival and cost-effective intervention.

The country will commemorate this year`s campaign under the adapted theme: “Support breastfeeding for a healthier South Africa.” 

The 2020 commemoration comes at a time where all countries continue to focus efforts to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infections.

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize urged mothers to breastfeed their babies and maintain personal hygiene and disinfect all other breastfeeding items to prevent possible infections.

Mkhize reiterated that while so far,  the  Covid-19  virus has not been found in breastmilk,  mothers are advised to continue breastfeeding and practice good hygiene by wearing a mask during feeding and wash their hands with soap before and after touching the baby. 

Based on the latest South African Demographic Health Survey (SADHS 2016), South Africa is behind meeting the global target to improve exclusive breastfeeding rate to 50% by 2025. Exclusive breastfeeding refers to baby consuming breastmilk only for the first 6 months of life. In South Africa, only 32% of children under 6 months are breastfed exclusively.  

Minister urged everyone including partners, healthcare workers, employers, families to create a conducive environment for mothers to breastfeed their babies for a  healthier  South Africa.

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