The Ministry of Health (MOH) is commemorating World Breastfeeding Week, under its theme, “Let’s make breastfeeding at work, work” to emphasize the need for greater breastfeeding support across all workplaces to sustain and improve progress on breastfeeding rates nationally

“Supportive workplaces are key. Evidence shows that while breastfeeding rates drop significantly for women when they return to work, that negative impact can be reversed when workplaces facilitate mothers to continue to breastfeed their babies,” MOH said in statement.

MOH’s Nutrition Unit reported that in Vanuatu, 85% of babies were breastfeed within one hour of birth and 82% were exclusively breastfed for the first three months.

Nutrition Coordinator Nerida Hinge said “Only 52% were still breastfed at 24 months and 29% of children aged 6-23 months were fed according to the recommended infant and young child feeding practices”

“One in four children (26%) of children were given complementary foods before the recommended 6 months of age” Nerida stated.

From the earliest moments of a child’s life, breastfeeding is the ultimate child survival and development intervention. Breastfeeding protects babies from common infectious diseases and boosts children’s immune systems, providing the key nutrients children need to grow and develop to their full potential. Babies who are not breastfed are 14 times more likely to die before they reach their first birthday than babies who are exclusively breastfed.

MOH emphasise the importance of breastfeeding for all working mothers by having access to regular breastfeeding breaks and facilities that enable mothers to continue breastfeeding their children once they return to work.