MOH News
Dr. Al-Osaimi Calls for Developing a Strategy for the Breastfeeding Promoting Program
15 September 2014
The Assistant Deputy Minister for the Supportive Medical Services, Dr. Munirah bint Himdan Al-Osaimi, pointed out that the Ministry of Health (MOH) seeks to raise the breastfeeding rates in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). During the honoring ceremony held the day before yesterday morning for the health institutions awarded the world title “Child Friendly”, accredited by the MOH and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), under the auspices of the Vice Minister of Health for Health Affairs, Dr. Mansour bin Nasser Al-Howasi, Dr. Al-Osaimi underlined that efforts are concerted between the health sectors and UNICEF; in order to boost up the procedures applied for the purpose of encouraging mothers towards breastfeeding.
Similarly, Dr. Al-Osaimi called on the members of the National Committee for the Breastfeeding Promoting Program, representing the Ministry of  Health, Ministry of Culture and Information, Ministry of Higher Education, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Islamic Affair and Food and Drug Authority, to adopt new strategies meant for taking strides in that regard.  
Still, Dr. Al-Osaimi noted that honoring these institutions came as a result of their applying the necessary steps for bolstering breastfeeding. They are 12 health institutions: 11 primary healthcare centers, including 8 centers related to the MOH, and 3 primary healthcare centers related to the National Guard.
 For his part, the Supervisor-General of the MOH Nutrition General Department, Mr. Mashari bin Hamad Al-Dekhail, who also serves as the National Coordinator for the Breastfeeding Promoting Program, and Chairman of the National Committee for Breastfeeding, revealed that the total number of the health institutions which obtained the “Child Friendly” title reached 60 institutions; of these are 26 hospitals and 34 primary healthcare centers distributed among the MOH, Medical Services pertaining to the National Guard, and the private sector.
Within the same vein, Mr. Al-Dekhail made clear that the “breastfeeding plays a vital role in curbing the incidence of many diseases affecting both the mother and child. And science keeps on revealing more in terms of the direct relation between the breastfeeding and health.”
“Thus,” he added, “the MOH is interested in boosting the policies supporting the delivering of the health and nutrition care for the mother and child, and encouraging the breastfeeding. Allah in the Holy Quran says, (The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling). As such, mothers should breastfeed their children since the first day of birth up to the first six months. In other words, the mother’s milk is the natural nutrition source created by Allah for the safe growth of the child and mother’s health, and for preventing them from many diseases such as developing the infectious and chronic diseases and early child mortality.”
Further, Mr. Al-Dekhail underscored that the results of the nutritional surveillance for five regions in 1434H reached 35.1 percent of the breastfeeding in the first six months of the child’s age, whereas the artificial feeding rate amounted to 91.7 percent. Moreover, 99 percent of the pregnant women are educated on the importance of breastfeeding, and provided with the essential information of the importance of the primary breastfeeding for the infant’s health.
For his part, the UNICEF representative in Gulf States, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Zeeq, said that the studies show that breastfed children are more likely to survive during the first six months by 14 times than those not breastfed. Moreover, starting the breastfeeding from the first day of birth can reduce the risks of neonatal mortality by a percentage reaching up to 45 percent. Breastfeeding boosts up the child’s ability to learn, and helps hold back obesity and chronic diseases later.  As regards the breastfeeding mothers, they are less vulnerable to get conceived during the first six months past delivery, and are more likely to recover quickly from delivery. In a similar fashion, they are more likely to maintain their pre-pregnancy weight, and are less vulnerable to postnatal depression, as well as being less vulnerable to develop ovarian and breast cancer. However, in spite of all these well-documented benefits worldwide, estimates show that 39 percent of children six months were not breastfed in 2012.    

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