Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar said,mission of restoring one of the most important rights of young children which guarantees their health and well being throughout life and that is breastfeeding. While she was addressing Global Breastfeeding Week 2016 today in Islamabad.

She said, Appropriate feeding practices are essential for the nutritional status, growth, development and survival of infants and young children. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, and thereafter should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues up to two years and beyond. Allah (Subhanahu Wataala) says in The Holy Quran that “Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing”

She said Today the realization in the world is more elaborate after so many studies conducted on the benefits of breast feeding and the recent Lancet series which not only focuses on breastfeeding and stresses upon the need to improve exclusive breastfeeding in both low-income and high-income countries to promote child survival and wellbeing.

She said Similarly World Health Assembly has also set targets to improve breastfeeding and Government of Pakistan has also committed to adhere to these global targets set in the 69th World Health Assembly.

In 2002 necessary legislation for protection and promotion of breast feeding was made through “The protection of breast-feeding and child nutrition ordinance” and in 2009 the breast feeding rules were formulated and endorsed by the then Health Ministry.

However enforcement of these rules still remains a challenge. It is heartening to note that Federal and Provincial Infant feeding boards are also active now and Infant and Young Child feeding strategy 2016 has also been launched by our Ministry.

She said However we also have to work on the creation of awareness among masses.

Here I would like to point out one major challenge and that is role of health care providers in prescribing and promoting in-discriminate sale and use of breast milk substitute or formula milk which is a major threat to life and wellbeing of young children in Pakistan.

Government functionaries, civil society and parliamentarians have to work hard for implementation of International code of marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, approved by the World Health Assembly and must take all possible measures to protect and promote breastfeeding in all circumstances.

Minister urged development partners, civil society, media and health care community to join hands with Government and stand firmly to restore the right of breastfeeding to children of Pakistan as this is our common stance. As far as Government is concerned we will take all possible measures to enforce Breast-milk Substitutes code and breastfeeding ordinance with visible action.

We also acknowledge support of UNICEF and other UN organizations and development partners in supporting our Ministry in developing strategies and guidelines through provision of national and international technical support. I look forward to working together with all of you for this noble cause.

She said Finally I would also like to take this opportunity to appreciate the role of our front line soldiers the Lady Health Workers who have always stood up to the challenge and supported mothers and children through their skills and motivation. I call upon them to spread the messages of early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breastfeeding and continuation of breast feeding up to two   years. This indeed is a message of hope. A message that would help build a healthier nation.