I. Commitment and capacity for the support of breastfeeding in South Africa

Lisanne M Du Plessis, C Pereira

Abstract


This paper aims to summarise current evidence and highlight best practices, in order to propose a paediatric food-based dietary guideline (FBDG) on exclusive breastfeeding for South Africa. A literature search was conducted to profile the current nutritional status of children and breastfeeding practices in South Africa, reflect on the commitment and capacity that has been pledged and built for exclusive and continued breastfeeding over the past five years, and highlight the action needed to improve infant and young child feeding practices in the country. From the review, it was clear that the nutritional status of children and breastfeeding practices in South Africa remain unsatisfactory. The evidence base supporting the importance of exclusive and continued breastfeeding on a global and local level has been broadened. There are comprehensive and practical international guidelines to guide the protection, promotion of, and support for breastfeeding. Comprehensive and sound national and provincial policies and guidelines have also been developed in South Africa. The political will to address infant and young child feeding has been advanced and demonstrated, and a supportive environment created through commitment and capacity building. There is a need for focused action addressing adequate monitoring and evaluation of processes during all stages of the implementation of evidence-based and theoretical planning. These actions should drastically improve exclusive and continued breastfeeding and advance the health and survival of children in South Africa. The recent momentum gained in support of improving infant and young child feeding could further be enhanced by the process of reviewing the preliminary South African paediatric FBDG and field testing the following proposed message: “Give only breast milk, and no other foods or liquids, to your baby for the first six months of life”.

Keywords


breastfeeding, infants, South Africa

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S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268


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