MOH News
Average Duration of Breastfeeding among Saudi Mothers on the Rise
28 May 2013
A recent study has indicated that the average duration of breastfeeding among Saudi mothers has increased by 2.3 months over the past year, thus reaching an average of 7.5 months, after it had been only 5.3 months in 1431H. The study has been conducted by the Ministry of Health (MOH), represented by the Nutrition General Department, the national representative of the Breastfeeding Program.
The Assistant Deputy Minister for Supportive Medical Services, Munira bint Hemdan al-Esseimi, that this increase of the average duration of breastfeeding has been brought about by the robust enforcement of the National Strategy for Encouraging Breastfeeding, which has been approved by His Excellency the Minister of Health, Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah. “Among the objectives assigned to this strategy,” she said, “is to increase the average duration of breastfeeding, improve the nutritional behaviors of infants and children, and reduce children's mortality and morbidity; in addition to diminishing the potential risks to face mothers and children when depending on artificial feeding.”
Al-Esseimi went on to say, “The National Strategy for Encouraging Breastfeeding relies on several international policies fostering breastfeeding, such as the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes issued by the World Health Assembly, the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, inspired by the joint WHO/UNICEF statement, as well as the Enchanté Declaration for protecting and enhancing breastfeeding.”
According to al-Esseimi, the Strategy “seeks to achieve the optimal and safe social and health care for infants and breastfeeding women, by way of encouraging breastfeeding and the sound use of breast-milk substitutes, along with harnessing the potentials and capabilities of the state institutions towards enhancing and supporting breast-feeding practices among mothers. That is to be put into effect by raising people's awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, creating a child-friendly society, and providing accurate statistical information about the average of breastfeeding, and practices of child nutrition, as well as enforcing the provisions of the Trade in Breast-Milk Substitutes Law.
“The adoption of such policies,” al-Esseimi concluded, “has been positively reflected in the increase of the average duration of breastfeeding among mothers, not to mention the boost of child-friendly organizations, mounting to 51 across the Kingdom, including several MOH hospitals and health centers, in addition to other governmental and private hospitals.

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