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Roque: Brgy breastfeeding centers for moms & kids

UniTeam senatorial candidate and Universal Health Care law author Harry Roque would sponsor a law establishing barangay breastfeeding centers for mothers and their babies.

The former party-list representative said the United Nations endorses infant breastfeeding as a cost-effective strategy for poverty alleviation in developing countries like the Philippines.

The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) said breastfeeding contributes to poverty reduction, economic growth, and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

“Arresting the country’s diminishing breastfeeding culture is part of the government’s mandate to promote the public’s welfare. This can be achieved if the practice is institutionalized at the barangay level,” Roque said.

The health and human rights advocate noted the lifesaving properties of breastfeeding, which reduces the risk of respiratory ailments, diarrhea, malnutrition, and degenerative diseases among infants.

He added that breastfeeding ensures maternal health by protecting mothers from hemorrhage, cancer, and anemia. It also prevents closely-spaced pregnancies in childbearing mothers.

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), only 34 percent of Filipino children under six months are breastfed exclusively, based on a 2017 study.

The downtrend in breastfeeding practices of Filipino mothers was cited by the Philippine Statistics survey in 2004. Only 53 percent of children under two months old were exclusively breastfed. The figure is lower than the 58 percent recorded in 1998.

“More than the economic reasons, we should encourage Filipino mothers to exclusively breastfeed because it encompasses issues on health, women empowerment, and love between mother and child,” Roque said.

If elected to the Senate, Roque’s proposed ‘Barangay Breastfeeding Centers Act’ would give residents free access to the services and facilities. Depending on space requirements, the center will be integrated within the barangay hall or separately built.

Specifically, lactating mothers will be provided with medicines, vitamins, breast pumps, breastfeeding milk supplements, and paraphernalia.

A barangay breastfeeding personnel will conduct periodic campaigns on the importance of breastfeeding to the health of mothers and infants. Every six months, the health officer will undergo skills training from the municipal and or city health office.

The municipal and health officers will monitor and inspect the services and facilities of barangay breastfeeding centers every two months.

In coordination with local government units, the health and welfare departments will implement this proposed measure.


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