The two-day National Conference on Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding (Infant and Young Child Feeding) began Saturday at the Institute of Child and Mother Health (ICMC) at Matuail in the city with the call of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding and complementary feeding.
Inaugurating the conference, Minister for Food and Disaster Management Chowdhury Kamal Ibne Yusuf said the government is committed to uphold nutrition through different programmes keeping breastfeeding as the major component.
The minister said national strategy of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) would be endorsed soon in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for ensuring nutrition to the infants and young children.
Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation (BBF), with the assistance of the National Nutrition Programme (NNP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, organised the conference based on the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding endorsed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Emphasising the need for breastfeeding to the newborn child, the minister said breastfeeding up to two years reduces risks of many infectious and other diseases.
He said breastfeeding and proper complementary feeding contribute to reducing 28 per cent motility of children under five years.
"Breastfeeding equally protects the health of mothers by reducing breast, ovarian and uterine cancers and helps control diabetes and saves mothers getting osteoporosis (condition of weak, easily broken bones)," he said.
Referring to the global health recommendation, Yusuf said infants should be exclusively breast fed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. "Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for the first two years of life," he added.
Md Abul Kashem, executive director of the National Nutrition Programme (NNP), said action of breastfeeding is for everybody and it is to start from one's own home first.
He regretted that though mothers in the rural areas are used to breastfeeding, the picture in urban areas was different.
MQK Talukder, chairperson of BBF, who presided over the inaugural function, said, "We need equally protect and support both breastfeeding and complementary feeding."
He called for recognising the contribution of breastfeeding in reducing child mortality in the country.