YANG BERHORMAT DATO SERI SETIA
DR HAJI ZULKARNAIN BIN HAJI HANAFI
MINISTER OF HEALTH
ON THE OCCASION OF WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK
1-7 AUGUST 2017
"SUSTAINING BREASTFEEDING TOGETHER"
1. In this first week of August, Brunei Darussalam joins the global community to commemorate the World Breastfeeding Week to promote the practice of breastfeeding among mothers and mothers-to-be. This year's theme is 'Sustaining Breastfeeding Together'. The focus is on breastfeeding as a sustainable and healthy way to ensure that every child has the best start in life and all of us in Brunei can contribute to this goal.
2. Our culture and way of life has always prioritised the health of mothers and children. These two groups build the foundation for a healthy, prosperous and developed nation. In this regard, Brunei Darussalam continues to sustain efforts that encourage mothers to breastfeed. A key initiative has been the extension of maternity leave for civil servants from 8 weeks to 15 weeks to support breastfeeding initiation. More recently in April 2017, Brunei Darussalam has introduced a comprehensive scheme that provides free breast pumps for all newborns to ensure that they are well taken care of during this important formative period.
3. We hope that these developments serve as opportunities for mothers to start exclusive breastfeeding and truly give their children the best possible start in life. Here are some key ways:
- Start breastfeeding within one hour of birth, if possible.
- From birth to six months of age, feed babies exclusively with breast milk - not to give them other food or drink, and feed them frequently, that is, as often as they demand.
- From six months of age, introduce a variety of safe, appropriate and nutritious family foods to complement breastfeeding.
- Continue breastfeeding until your child is two years old.
4. For many mothers and babies, breastfeeding goes smoothly from the start. For others, it takes a little time and several attempts to get the process going effectively. Like anything new, breastfeeding takes some practice. This is perfectly normal. If you need help, ask the doctors and nurses while you are still in the hospital, or your doctor at the health centres if you are out of hospital.
5. Breast milk gives your baby more than just good nutrition. Your breastfed child will benefit in terms of development, higher performance in intelligence tests, immunity from infections, and lower risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in later life. In addition, breastfeeding has medical and psychological benefits for the mother with faster maternal recovery, a return to their normal weight, and reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
6. Ongoing efforts to promote breastfeeding is well-aligned with the Ministry of Health's strategic priorities, that is, to inculcate that health is everyone's business as well as to prevent and control non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Towards this, the Ministry will need continuous support from the whole society. Whether a woman is at home, among their families and friends, or working in the formal or non-formal setting, she needs to feel supported and empowered to claim the right to breastfeed on behalf of both herself and her baby. It is everyone's role to encourage the mothers, to make them feel comfortable and to enable them to make this important decision for the health and well-being of their child.