Turkmenistan marks the National Breastfeeding Week

Turkmenistan has started celebration of the National Breastfeeding Week that will last throughout September 7. The Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan in joint partnership with UNICEF will run a week long campaign through broadcasting programs on benefits of breastfeeding, disseminating information materials and conducting workshops among new mothers and health workers.

The breastfeeding campaign is aimed at promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development. Continued breast feeding after six months, for up to two years of age or beyond, combined with safe and appropriate complementary feeding, is the optimal approach to child feeding.

UNICEF works with new mothers around the globe to ensure that their babies are properly fed. For example, in Turkmenistan UNICEF has assisted the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry in certification of 51 hospitals as “baby-friendly”, where mothers are exclusively breastfeeding their babies once they are born. Those hospitals make up 80% of all maternity houses around the country where 78% of infants are born. As of today, all maternity houses of Dashoguz and Mary velayats are certified as baby-friendly and most of the maternity houses in Akhal, Balkan and Lebap velayats are certified as well. Thousands of health workers have been trained and more programs on strengthening the institutional capacity of the health sector are under way.

This year the World Breastfeeding Week that is celebrated annually the first week of August marked the 25th anniversary of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes. To date, more than 60 governments have enacted all or many of the provisions of the Code as law. UNICEF is actively promoting ratification of the International Code by Turkmenistan and believes that it will protect and promote breastfeeding by prohibiting the advertising and aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats.

UNICEF works with partners, governments and communities to protect and promote breastfeeding by supporting national infant-feeding legislation, improving ante- and post-natal care and boosting resources for new mothers at the community-level.