Nestlé has stressed that breast milk is the right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life of newborns and infants.
It is, therefore, promoting and supporting breastfeeding as part of its commitment to improve maternal and infant nutrition in Central and West Africa.
This year, the company is scaling up its activities about the importance of breastfeeding by proactively engaging with healthcare professionals and employees in the region, and backing World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7.
In a statement issued and copied to the Ghana News Agency, Nestle said in Central and West Africa, low exclusive breastfeeding rates, poor feeding practices, and the use of inappropriate complementary foods in the first two years of life were far too common and could have adverse effects on the development of children.
To help address these problems, Nestlé is focusing its activities and nutrition education on healthcare professionals (HCPs) as part of its commitment to implement nutrition education programmes to promote good nutritional practices.
These activities are carried out in collaboration with Ministries of Health and professional associations.
This commitment is one of the company’s 35 pledges, which aims to fulfill by 2020 or earlier as outlined in the Nestlé Society report on ‘Creating Shared Value and meeting our commitments 2013, the statement said.
The statement explained that Nestle was engaging with doctors, midwives, nurses, scientists and nutrition communities to extend its messages to the public through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA).
The NNIA is part of the independent non-profit organisation the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI), the world’s largest private publisher of nutritional information.
Nestlé, according to the statement, was also developing breastfeeding education materials in collaboration with Ministries of Health, professional associations and non-governmental organisations to teach mothers the importance of breastfeeding and good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life through HCPs.
To address the issue of inadequate complementary foods for infants in Central and West Africa, Nestlé is innovating its offerings of fortified, nutritious complementary food products to help improve the nutritional status of infants and young children.
It is also proactively educating, engaging and supporting its employees in Central and West Africa on the importance of breastfeeding.
It is offering female employees the opportunity to take maternity leave in line with national legislation, plus additional weeks.
The company is similarly supporting fathers, offering them paternity leave, according to standard national legislation, and extra days off.
Nestle has provided a number of breastfeeding rooms at some of the company’s offices in the region, which are already in use.
Currently, there is a breastfeeding mother support group in Nestlé Ghana, made up of experienced mothers who have practiced exclusive breastfeeding and have been trained to provide support and encouragement to other nursing mothers within the company so they can benefit from the rewarding experience of breastfeeding.
Nestle will at this year’s World Breastfeeding Week; engage its male employees to promote its internal campaign on how fathers can support breastfeeding.
Other activities would include interactive email campaigns, prize-winning competitions and quizzes, external speaker presentations and discussions. GNA