As part of the month-long celebration of the 37th Nutrition Month, Valenzuela City upholds its local nutrition campaign anchoring on the nationwide theme, “Breastfeeding: Tama, Sapat at EKsklusibo.”
Organized through the Valenzuela City Health Department, in cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NNC) and SM Center Valenzuela, more than 150 mothers took part in the day-long activity geared towards the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding as the most effective means to improve child survival. The event focused on key messages to ensure successful breastfeeding practices.
“We see it as a year-round nutrition program campaign focusing on children’s health,” explained Valenzuela City Health Officer, Dr. Jaime Exconde. “Nutrition should be monitored at the earliest phase possible.”
The theme, under the popular acronym TSEk, means: “Tama” by immediate skin-to-skin contact between mother and baby after birth, and initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life; “Sapat” by encouraging and assuring mothers that little breastmilk is enough for the first week and that frequent breastfeeding ensures continuous breastmilk supply to respond to the increasing needs of the baby; “EKsklusibo” by giving only breastmilk and no other liquid to the baby for the first six months. Breastmilk has all the water and nutrients that the baby needs for the first six months after which the baby should be given appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that huge coverage of optimal breastfeeding practices could avert 13% of the 10.6 million yearly deaths of children five years old and below. The WHO report also stated that “Babies who were not breastfed in the first six months of their lives are 25 times more likely to die than those who experienced exclusive breastfeeding from the time they were born.” It further states that breastfeeding “not only saves babies from death, but also improve their intelligence.” The report concludes that “Breastfed babies do better in school cognitive tests by as much as 4.9 points.”
Ms. Myrna Castañeda, 39, a mother of two siblings could not believe that there is much more to know about breastfeeding. “Sa dami kasi ng patalastas ng powdered milksa telebisyon, akala ko hindi na kailangang mag-breastfeed ng sanggol. (With powdered milk advertisements flooding the television screen, I really thought that there is no more need to breastfeed.), she said.
The launch featured lectures on the health benefits acquired through breastfeeding by doctors from the Valenzuela City Health Department, as well as, from representatives of the Department of Health (DOH). This is the first of a series of events committed to the promotion of health and nutrition this whole month of July.
The City Health Department, maintains its own network of health educators. The Health Education and Promotion Office (HEPO) provides necessary training to Barangay
Health Workers (BHWs) to uphold the Infant and Young Child Feeding (ICYF) program of the department. The BHWs are the ones educating future mothers who are undergoing pre-natal check-ups at the Health Centers of the importance and benefits of breastfeeding, among other infant caring and nutrition practices.
Nutrition Month is celebrated annually by virtue of the Presidential Decree No. 491, otherwise known as, the Nutrition Act of the Philippines. The decree also created the National Nutrition Council (NNC), the country’s highest policy-making and coordinating body on nutrition.