Only 4 in 10 babies in Latin America and the Caribbean are breastfed, warns UNICEF

PANAMA CITY, 4 August (EFE) – Only 4 out of 10 babies under 6 months old in Latin America and the Caribbean, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), warned this Friday 43% of the population) exclusively breastfeeds milk and urges governments and companies to guarantee breastfeeding in the workplace.

Furthermore, only 48 percent of boys and girls aged 12 to 23 months in the region are breastfed, compared to a world average of 65 percent, UNICEF revealed in a statement.

“Unfortunately, in Latin America and the Caribbean, most babies under six months are not exclusively breastfed,” said UNICEF Regional Director Garry Conille, lamenting that because of this , they will not be able to “comprehensively prevent malnutrition”. its form, and to promote the well-being of children”.

“Continuing on this path we will miss the Sustainable Development Goal of 70% exclusive breastfeeding by 2030,” he stressed.

For UNICEF, several reasons have hindered this approach in the region, one of which is the difficulty of making breastfeeding and work life compatible.

It also noted that family support and care policies in the region did not provide the necessary support for nursing mothers.

Breastfeeding, pregnancy and challenges.

A UNICEF study found that only 14 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean guarantee the minimum 14 weeks of maternity leave recommended by the International Labor Organization (ILO), and only six countries reach the 18 weeks.

It also shows that the challenges mothers face in breastfeeding their babies are also evident in the private sector.

As a result, a survey of 305 companies in the region by UNICEF and Deloitte found that employers offer an average of 13 weeks of paid maternity leave to full-time workers.

Regarding paternity leave, the analysis shows that large companies guarantee an average of 11 days, while small and medium-sized enterprises guarantee about 9 days.

While 68 percent of large companies have lactation rooms for nursing mothers, only 29 percent of SMEs consulted have such facilities.

Beyond its importance to health, UNICEF argues that breastfeeding has a major economic impact, citing estimates that “every dollar invested in promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding yields $35 in long-term economic benefits “.

UNICEF said such “smart investments” would reduce the financial burden on health systems by reducing childhood diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.

“Breastfeeding is critical to the health and development of both the child and the mother,” Conier said.

In this regard, on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF reiterates its call on governments, public agencies and the private sector to ensure environments that support breastfeeding for all paid working mothers, including informal working mothers. departmental or temporary contracts.

UNICEF said these were “urgent issues” aimed at ensuring women were able to breastfeed if they wanted, as “more than 500 million working women lack basic maternity supplies; more return to work Find yourself without support.” ”

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