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Health Ministry advocates for paid maternal leave

By Sheila Ponnie

The national Ministry of Health said expectant women deserve 18 weeks paid maternal leave.

The ministry is also advocating for establishment of breastfeeding corners in all offices to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.

Dr. Makur M. Koryom Undersecretary for national Minister of Health said breastfeeding was central to achieving optimum health and to ensuring the survival of infants and young children.

He added that breastfeeding plays a key role in the prevention of infant morbidity and mortality, particularly due to diarrheal diseases and pneumonia

“As part of the Universal Health Coverage, South Sudan is committed to achieve 98 per cent of exclusive Breast Feeding in the next five years,” Dr Koryom said.

He made the remarks during the launch of the World Breastfeeding Week yesterday at palm Africa Hotel

This year’s international breastfeeding week was marked under the theme, “Empower parents, enable breastfeeding.”

The event aimed at promoting policies that enable breastfeeding and assist mothers to nurture and bond with their children during the early stages of life when it matters

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF Deputy Representative Andrea Suley said the stunting prevalence has reduced from 31 per cent in 201 to 17 per cent in 2018.

“The prevalence of acute malnutrition has reduced from 23 per cent in 2010 to 13 per cent in 2018,”Suley

However, Suley added that there some challenges that can be overcome

“In the complementary feeding practices indeed, only 48 per cent of children aged 6-8 months are properly introduced to solid and semi-solid food while 15 per cent of children aged 6-23 months receive minimum dietary diversity and 5 per cent of children aged 6-23 months receive a minimum acceptable diet,” she said.

According to Suley, the United Nations Agencies were working with the government to promote the importance of family friendly policies to enable breastfeeding and to help nurture and bond with their children in early life when it matters most.

This includes enacting paid maternity leave to mothers from quarter of pregnancy up to 6 months after delivery, and paid paternity leave to fathers to encourage shared responsibility of caring for their children on an equal basis.

This year, the WHO, UNICEF and WFP are working together with the government to improve the health and nutritional status of mothers and children in South Sudan.

 

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