The Kiambu County Government has partnered with Nutrition International to promote breastfeeding as a healthier and more environmentally friendly option for infants.
The two entities will also be sensitizing residents against the use of breastmilk substitutes which they say contribute greatly to environmental pollution hence becoming a contributor to global warming.
Kiambu Health CEC Joseph Murega said that the county government together with Nutrition International is developing policies that will promote breastfeeding across the county once implemented.
Speaking at Makongeni Dispensary Thika subcounty, Dr Murega noted that breastfeeding is the most environmentally friendly way to feed infants since it has zero garbage production, zero greenhouse gases emission and zero water footprints.
“Breastmilk is a natural, renewable food that is environmentally safe, produced and delivered to the consumer without pollution, unnecessary packaging or waste,” he said.
The CEC said that unlike breastfeeding, infant formula-the most common alternative to breast milk-contributes to environmental pollution and degradation as it requires intensive water consumption, high demand use of energy resources in manufacturing, extensive use of materials for packaging, greenhouse gases emission during transportation and widespread generation of household waste.
“All the processes in this pathway of production of the breast milk substitutes make their manufacturing a major environmental concern and a leading contributor to global warming. Again using these infant formulas make families economically constrained,” he said.
Hannah Mburu, Nutrition International programs coordinator in Kiambu County said that they will be funding training of Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in the county as well as health care workers in all health facilities within the county. Kiambu has 103 health facilities.
“We are keen on promoting breastfeeding in this region because it seems that most mothers especially young mothers are opting to feed their infants with infant formula. We have to make them understand that breast milk protects stunting in children and boosts their immunity thereby protect them from contracting diseases. Again they need to know that breast feeding reduces risks of getting breast cancer,” she said.
Mburu added: “We are also facilitating creation of mother-mother and father-father support groups within the county as a way of creating breastfeeding awareness,”
To create and promote breastfeeding awareness in the county, the two entities have already trained over 1700 Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) who will be educating residents on proper breastfeeding practices and the importance of breastfeeding.
The Kiambu County Government will also establish breastfeeding zones in social settings like hospitals, markets, worship centers and bus termini.
Currently only Gatundu Level Five Hospital has a breastfeeding space in the entire county.
“We will be putting up lactation corners in public facilities across the county. Plans are underway and we are sourcing funds for the same,” Dr Murega said.
Young mothers from Makongeni, Thika who spoke to journalists welcomed the plans to establish lactating corners for mothers.
Brenda Nanga and Dorcas Nyambura averred that there’s need for such spaces to allow mothers breastfeed their babies freely without disturbance.
Meanwhile, Dr Murega and Mburu called on first time mothers to uphold breastfeeding their babies saying that they will not ‘lose shape’ if they do so.
“Some first time mothers fear ‘losing their shape’ if they breastfeed and they are the ones using breast milk formulas most. We are encouraging them to ignore the myths of losing shape and breastfeed their babies. In fact they will get better ‘shapes’ if they breastfeed,” Dr Murega said