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Celebrating WBW2017 in Eastern and Southern Africa

  |   SUN Country Network

Enjoy our round-up of the 25th World Breastfeeding Week (WBW2017) from SUN Countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. Celebrated under the theme “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together!”, these collective efforts are bringing attention to breastfeeding’s remarkable ability to provide the nourishment needed for the growth, development and survival of infants around the world.

In Botswana, WBW2017 was commemorated with an event in Thamaga where Minister of Health and Wellness, Dorcas Makgato challenged all to act together to protect mothers and babies from factors hindering or constraining the practice of breastfeeding. Kweneng East was chosen as the host for this year’s commemoration due to its high malnutrition rates. Meanwhile, Thamaga/Kumakwane Member of Parliament Mr Tshenolo Mabeo, has challenged men to understand the importance of breastfeeding in the development and infant growth.


It goes without saying that breast-feeding supports health growth and development of infants and young children. New borns, infants and young children survive and thrive well when they are fed with breast-milk,”

Dorcas Makgato, Minister of Health and Wellness, Botswana.


Kenya made significant strides in protecting breastfeeding this year with the passing of a new Bill which will make it mandatory for employers to set aside special areas for breastfeeding mothers at the work place. In addition, a new law is being proposed to Parliament to double maternity leave from three to six months in a bid to boost the health of mothers and babies.

In Lesotho, Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso delivered the keynote address at a commemoration event during WBW2017 attended by multiple stakeholders including the Honourable Minister of Health. Queen Seeiso has been a long standing advocate for breastfeeding, often celebrating with Besotho mothers and families in the community. Citing research about the cost of not breastfeeding, she encouraged all to do more to support, protect and promote breastfeeding for the health and well-being of the nation and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.


Breastmilk is a complete nutrition for infants from birth to the first 6 months of life. Breastfed children have a higher IQ development capacity and stand a good chance for greater schooling than children who are not breastfed. This has a bearing on the future productivity of the children.”

Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso, Kingdom of Lesotho.


Madagascar Minister of Health meets mothers at World Breastfeeding Week celebrations.

Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo, Madagascar’s Minister of Health and Marie Lydia Toto Raharimalala Minister of Employment, Technical Education and Training, opened the week long celebration in Madagascar. Andriamanarivo commended the multisectoral efforts to support breastfeeding and took the opportunity to share information about the country’s national code on the promotion of breastmilk substitutes.

Ulunji Mezewa, a nutritionist at the Malawi Ministry of Health raised the Ministry’s concern about a 10 percent drop in breastfeeding rates across the country. He highlighted that the country was behind in breastfeeding compared to other countries in Africa ahead of the campaign which kicked off the week’s commemorations with Health Minister, Atupele Muluzi. Addressing hundreds of people who attended the launch, the Health Minister said the promotion of Breastfeeding is no one man show hence urging the general public and stakeholders to support Breastfeeding Mothers by creating an environment that promotes Breastfeeding.

In Mozambique, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) shared details about the new social behaviour change communication campaign which had begun in partnership with the  Ministry of Health of the Government of Mozambique (MISAU), called “Um Minuto Nutrição” (One Minute for Nutrition).

In Mogadishu, Somalia, WBW2017 was celebrated with a ceremony where UNICEF Representative Steven Lauwerier presented a group of mothers certificates in recognition of them completing 6 months exclusive breastfeeding to their children. The Minister of Health of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Fowsiya Abiikar Nur, spoke about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding on children’s health today – and the nation’s future tomorrow.

During World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF South Sudan funds various activities and UNICEF nutrition specialists participate in TV and radio talk shows and community counselling. Recent donors such as the Swiss Natcom, Canada Natcom and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation (ECHO) funded training components. Coinciding with WBW2017, Nina deVries of UNICEF shares the reality of breastfeeding for a displaced mother at the Protection of Civilian site (PoC) in Bentiu in a story titled, “Promoting Breastfeeding In A Time Of Conflict“.

Ms Ummy Mwalimu, Tanzania’s Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, launched breastfeeding week and promoted the ‘Wazazi Nipendeni’ programme. Wazazi Nipendeni is a text messaging service that offers free text messages in Swahili language to pregnant women, mothers with children under five years as well as supporters of pregnant women and new mothers. The minister challenged stakeholders to increase the number of those receiving the text messages to at least 50 per cent from the current 1.7 million since the program started in 2012.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health spoke to the media as part of their commemorations, including messages for cultural leaders in an effort to expel cultural myths against breastfeeding. A number of events were organised in partnership with International Baby Food Action Network of Uganda.

The Zimbabwe launch of breastfeeding week was held at Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield. Here, Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said even when the mother is HIV positive, exclusive breastfeeding for six months is vital for the survival, growth and development of a child. Minister of State for Harare Province, Cde Miriam Chikukwa also graced the occasion and said breastfeeding provides a time and a space that allows mothers to reconnect with their children in a meaningful way.

Links related to WBW2017 in Eastern and Southern Africa

  • http://allafrica.com/stories/201708080879.html
  • http://www.dailynews.gov.bw/news-details.php?nid=37657
  • https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001243697/boost-for-working-mothers-as-mps-pass-breastfeeding-bill
  • http://rocketscience.co.ke/2017/06/11/law-in-kenya-proposes-employers-provide-breastfeeding-stations/
  • http://agenceanta.com/lallaitement-maternel-contribue-au-developpement-psychomoteur-de-lenfant/
  • http://www.times.mw/malawi-exclusive-breastfeeding-drops-by-10/
  • https://www.nyasatimes.com/malawi-launches-breast-feeding-week-health-minister-muluzi-says-campaign-collective-responsibility/
  • http://www.gainhealth.org/knowledge-centre/world-breastfeeding-week-supporting-breastfeeding/
  • https://www.unicef.org/somalia/media_20280.html
  • http://www.childrenofsouthsudan.info/promoting-breastfeeding-in-a-time-of-conflict/
  • http://www.azaniapost.com/health/tanzania-encourages-breastfeeding-among-mothers-h5509.html
  • http://www.zbc.co.zw/2017/08/03/breastfeeding-critical-for-child-development/

Background to World Breastfeeding Week

The World Breastfeeding Week’s 25th year in 2017 is about working together for the common good. Coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the exciting week from 1-7 August is celebrated each year to recognise the importance of protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. The week is based on the Innocenti Declarations, the recently launched Ten Links for Nurturing the Future: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Read more about this year’s theme >

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