The 2nd Regional Breastfeeding Conference Kicks Off in Cyberjaya, Seek to Encourage Exclusive Breastfeeding Habits Beyond the 6-months Mark
28 August 2019, Cyberjaya, MALAYSIA – The Malaysian Breastfeeding Association, a non-profit organization created to endorse, promote and support healthy breastfeeding practise in Malaysia, today officially launches the 2nd Regional Breastfeeding Conference, happening at the Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCSM) from 27th-30th August 2019.
Anchored on the theme ‘Optimising Nutrition, and Well-being of Mother and Young Child’, the conference will gather around one hundred medical professionals, healthcare workers, academicians and public interest groups from over 13 countries across the region to share new knowledge, recommendations and drive for policy change to protect breastfeeding rights for women. The main conversation echoes the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week – ‘Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding’ – promoting the importance of family-friendly policies to enable breastfeeding as well as supporting parents to nurture and bond with their children.
Welcoming delegates at the Conference, Professor Dr Adlina Suleiman, vice-president of the Malaysian Breastfeeding Association shared, “While breastfeeding is a natural act, we understand that mothers and their partners or caregivers require the right active support to establish and sustain proper breastfeeding practices. It is our responsibility as a society to ensure that breastfeeding is encouraged, supported and celebrated. The 2nd Regional Breastfeeding Conference therefore seeks to educate and empower the community that could help mothers find the right information, support and confidence to practise exclusive breastfeeding beyond the 6-month mark.”
The current National Breastfeeding Policy advice mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding – feeding child with only breastmilk – from birth to six months, per the recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Complimentary food can be introduced in their diet when the baby completes six months of age. In addition, the Malaysian Breastfeeding Association advocates for the continuance of breastfeeding until one year of age and if needed to supplement with fresh cow’s milk instead of formula milk.
Applauding the efforts, Dato’ Junaidah Kamarruddin, Secretary-General at the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (MWFCD) said data from the ministry showed that around 95% of mothers breastfeed during the first few months of birth, with 60% completing the 6-month mark, compared to a decade ago. “The ministry recognises the benefits breastfeeding brings to children, mothers and the family unit that becomes the basis of our society. This is where we play an integral part in empowering and preserving the rights of women, families and communities fairly, and impartially without discrimination. With this, comes the rights of women to breastfeed,”
Elaborating on the initiatives taken by the ministry, Dato’ Junaidah added that “Currently there are two main programs under our agency, the National Population and Family Development Board Malaysia (NPFDB), to support breastfeeding initiatives by the Ministry of Health. This includes breastfeeding advocacy program through family planning counselling session that is available at 49 Nur Sejahtera Clinics nationwide, and the newly introduced Mamacare Program that provides postpartum care services to new mothers as part of the well-being and reproductive needs during the postpartum period.”
Among the impactful segment of the conference is a series of workshops that took place on 27 August, involving discussions on the adoption of the ‘International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes’ that aims to protect breastfeeding and prevent aggressive marketing practices that risk preventing mothers from completing their own breastfeeding target, improvements to the International Labour Organization’s Convention code 183 concerning maternity protection for working parents, and analysing mother-and-child friendly policy that are being implemented by health institutions in Malaysia. The report from these workshops is expected to be submitted to the relevant Malaysian ministries for further consideration.
In addition to conventional and scientific discussion, the conference will also feature a ‘Breastfeeding & Childcare in Islam’ post-congress session on 30 August, focusing on the methods and principles relating to breastfeeding and childcare from the Islamic perspective. The first of its kind in Malaysia, the session will look into topics including vaccination, breastfeeding guidelines, child marriage, gender equity and child protection. Registration for this session is open to the public through the conference website at http://breastfeed.org.my/.