partnering with the Ministry of Health to host a panel discussion on the importance of breastfeeding.
Senegal celebrated its World Breastfeeding Week from December 13- 20th 2018. Child health advocates came together in the nation’s capital with the goal of raising awareness among government authorities, non-governmental organizations and other health partners on the importance of breastfeeding. Helen Keller International’s ARCH Senegal team supported the Ministry of Health to begin the week’s activities by hosting a panel discussion with experts in the field of maternal and child nutrition. A key theme of the discussion was the vital importance of early and exclusive breast-feeding in the reduction of maternal, neonatal and infant mortality.
The panel took place on December 14th at the Good-Rade Hotel in Dakar. A total of 35 participants attended, including staff from the Ministry of Health and the government’s Nutrition and Food Division along with local health workers, civil society representatives and religious leaders. The panel was chaired by Dr. Boubacar Camara, a pediatrician at the Institute of Social Pediatrics.
The six panelists provided varied points of view on how Senegal must address the needs of breastfeeding mothers. Highlights from each panelist’s statements show the diverse perspectives they represented:
- Dr. Ousmane Ndiaye, pediatrician, discussed the role of exclusive breastfeeding in reducing child mortality and reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Dr. Maty Diagne Camara, Head of Nutrition and Food Division/Ministry of Health, spoke about the challenges and opportunities the government has faced in the implementation of Senegal’s Multisectoral Nutrition Strategic Plan.
- Mrs. Khady Seck, lawyer at the Ministry of Health, shared current progress with regulating the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.
- Mrs. Bigué Ba Mbodj, President of the Midwives Association, emphasized the midwife’s place in initiation, promotion and support of exclusive breastfeeding.
- Mr. Seydou Ndiaye, Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Platforms Coordinator, advocated for including breastfeeding in civil society programs and planning.
- Mrs. Aminata Seck, Arabic inspector, discussed various religious recommendations regarding breastfeeding practices.
The ARCH Senegal team joined the discussion on how to ensure that authorities and parliamentarians are engaged in breastfeeding protection, promotion and support. This was informed in part by results of ARCH research in Senegal which suggest there is a need to strengthen the support offered to new mothers in health facilities. The team will continue working in the country to gather evidence and provide recommendations to decision-makers at the national and global level.
A gallery of photos from the event is below!