Sharjah Baby Friendly Campaign spotlights infant feeding practices

February 12, 2014 11:06 am

Continuing its drive to establish Sharjah as a baby friendly Emirate, Sharjah Baby Friendly Campaign (SBFC), in collaboration with Maternal and Child Health Center – Sharjah, have organised a complementary Feeding Counselling Training Programme. Being held at the Supreme Council of Family Affairs Auditorium in Sharjah from the 11th to the 13th of February, the programme aims to create greater awareness about appropriate feeding practices among health care personnel, representatives of both private and governmental health departments from various emirates in UAE, including dieticians, lactation consultants, specialists, and paediatricians, working with mothers and children directly.

Speaking about the programme, Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Director of the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, said, “Appropriate feeding practices are fundamental for the survival, growth, development, health, and nutrition of infants and children. Yet the feeding practices applied by mothers tend to be an amalgamation of, at times, out-dated family beliefs and community practices, with only a secondary focus on the information they receive from health workers. As a result, many young children do not receive adequate nutrition when after, six months, other foods are added to complement breastfeeding, which is why it is vital that mothers have access to accurate information on the best practices to implement in providing infant nutrition.”

The programme, which carries CME accreditation by the Ministry of Health in the UAE, is being presented by Randa Saadeh, consultant, lecturer, and formal scientist at the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization (WHO), in conjunction with number of other trainers from leading health institutes across Sharjah, affiliated by Ministry of Health who were trained by Ms Saadeh during a three-day workshop in the run up to the Feeding Counselling Training Programme that was held from the 8th to the 10th of February. The workshop saw a total of 14 trainers graduate by Ministry of Health, under SBFC supervision.

Commenting on the importance of infant nutrition, Randa Saadeh said, “Studies clearly show that he period from birth to two years of age is a “critical window” for the promotion of optimal growth, health and behavioural development. At WHO and UNICEF we strongly recommend that infants be exclusively breastfed for full six months, then introduction of complementary food while continuing to breastfeed for two years and beyond, as it has been shown that this practice can result in an up to 19% reduction in under-five mortality.” Saadeh added, “By providing this training programme we want to equip health care professionals to give real guidance on the best ways to ensure infant health through nutrition to the mothers that they work with.”

The three-day training programme which has been developed by the World Health Organization covers a range of vital topics such as, the importance of complementary feeding, foods to fill the energy gap quantity, variety and frequency of feeding, feeding techniques and strategies, feeding during illness and recovery, and the information giving skills.

The Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign was launched in March 2012 under the directives of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, under the theme ‘A True Beginning for a Better Future’. Chaired by Sheikha Budoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the Campaign focuses on supporting breastfeeding mothers and encouraging them to increase the proportion and duration of breastfeeding, so as to achieve its goal of promoting the physical and mental health of children and their parents.

For more information please contact:
Yousuf Al Taweel
Branch Manager – Sharjah
SAHARA Communications
Mob: +971 55 50 66 111

Araxi Keoshgerian
Senior Account Manager
SAHARA Communications
Mob: +971 050 4957461