Kenya has made significant strides in boosting exclusive breastfeeding, even passing a new law banning the promotion of infant formula. Nevertheless, challenges to safe infant feeding – a major part of prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission – remain.
The law, passed in September, prohibits the promotion of complementary foods and forbids health workers from accepting gifts from formula manufacturers. It also requires formula packaging to contain “notices, warnings and necessary information with respect to promotion of breastfeeding and proper use of breast milk substitutes”.
It is hoped that the law will contribute to the government’s push to encourage all mothers to breastfeed exclusively for at least six months. This is particularly important for HIV-positive women – six months of exclusive breastfeeding is associated with a three- to four-fold lower risk of HIV transmission compared to mixed feeding, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Kenya has adopted the UN World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that HIV-positive mothers should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life, introducing appropriate complementary foods thereafter, and continue breastfeeding for the first 24 months of life.
Following prodding by NGOs and the government, a number of local companies – large and small – have started to provide mothers with environments that enable them to exclusively breastfeed.
Read more of the story here at the IRIN news service:
KENYA: Exclusive breastfeeding on the rise