Sharjah becoming a global leader in promoting breastfeeding
WAM Sharjah, Aug 6th, 2012 (WAM) -- As the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of International Breastfeeding Week between 1-8 August, Sharjah is increasingly becoming a dominant player on the world stage in terms of encouraging breastfeeding.
Although breastfeeding rates in many developed countries are hovering within the 46-49% range, Sharjah has been a notable exception - with approximately 60% of mothers opting to breastfeed. This has largely been attributed to the tireless efforts of the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, which endeavors to raise the breastfeeding rate even higher. In less than half a year, the campaign has already made great inroads in elevating awareness of the superior benefits of breastfeeding.
Unicef has urged governments to play a greater role in promoting breastfeeding, and Sharjah has already been proactive by driving a campaign aimed at engaging, educating and protecting breastfeeding mothers and their babies.
Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Director of the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, expressed her satisfaction with the campaign's accomplishments thus far, but admitted that the work is far from over: "We haven't just focused on the theoretical aspects - such as educating the public - but also the practical side, such as ensuring there are rooms dedicated for breastfeeding at nurseries, workplaces and public places. But although we've had an abundance of success stories, we won't relax. If anything we will redouble our efforts; because we're gaining momentum and gaining trust not only from mothers, but their employers, families, nurseries and society as a whole." Another contributory factor to the campaign's success has been its unbiased and transparent portrayal of the merits of breastfeeding in comparison to artificial formula. For instance, in a study by the Lancet Nutrition Series indicated that in the first six months, a breastfed baby enjoys a survival rate that is 14 times higher compared to a non-breastfed baby.
The Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign was initiated in March 2012 under the generous patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Budoor bint Sultan Al Qassimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), President of the Campaign and Honorary President of the Breastfeeding Friends Association. The campaign encompasses four initiatives: Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries, Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places, Mother-Friendly Workplaces and Baby-Friendly Health Facilities. The campaign is sponsored by Sharjah Islamic Bank.