Head of the Public Health Unit at the Effia-Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Sekondi-Takoradi, Dr Nana Esi Gaisie says the rate at which babies are being exclusively breastfed is reducing.
Speaking to Skyy News, Dr Gaisie said in 2008, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among mothers was 63% and as of 2021, the rate has dropped to 43%.
She says this is a result of the increasing number of working-class mothers and if this issue is not addressed, there will be a time no mothers who will be exclusively breastfeeding their babies.
She said health workers are more vulnerable to this situation because 85% of them are women.
Dr Gaisie said, “If we don’t take action and allow it to be as it is, it will get to a point we will not get mothers who are exclusively breastfeeding.”
“The reason is that some mothers have to work, they form a large population of the working class, in the health sector, about 85% of the working class are women, and if we have to deal with this issue, we will have to find out what is preventing nursing mothers from breastfeeding,” She said.
She said there is a need to make breastfeeding possible among working mothers through the enactment of some laws.
“It starts with the lawmakers, we have to be real, I am happy to be a woman championing this course, if we have women who have the clout talking about this, then we should be able to deal with maternity leave being 3 months.”
“There should be a law that makes employers responsible for what happens after the 3 months when they come to work, for instance for a place where there is no paid leave, when it comes to maternity leave they should be paid.”
“Fathers should be involved by being offered paternity leave and also, they should be a place at work where breastfeeding mothers can go and breastfeed, they should have breaks and flexible schedules.”
Dr Gaisie said breastfeeding is not only beneficial healthwise but economical to the country as well.
“Globally we lose 257 to 341 million dollars for not breastfeeding, for the employer if you don’t allow your workers to breastfeed, what happens is that they give the babies formula milk, we know babies who are on formula milk often get sick because of the cow milk given to the babies, and this will cause a person to be always going to the hospital and this will lead to productive hours being lost.”
“As an employer, you may recruit new staff, you may lose experienced staff, there is no loyalty your job is not attractive enough and these are issues we have to talk about.”