BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- The Ministry Health views ‘Breast Feeding Week’ as a time to remind the public about the values of breastfeeding, the Honourable Wendy Phipps said while addressing the nation.

“The Ministry of Health views Breastfeeding Week as a time for all of us to be mindful of the fact that breastfeeding is a natural and progressive building block,” Hon Phipps explained. “It should immediately follow pregnancy and childbirth so that our Nation’s children will have the best chance at living strong, resilient lives where illnesses, diseases and nutrition deficiencies are minimized during the entire life course.”

Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated from Sept. 3 – 7 under the theme “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life,” is recognized to be an advocate of breastfeeding as a healthy part of child development around the world.

Minister Phipps noted that the celebration of Breastfeeding Week is in large measure to commemorate the “Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding” endorsed in Florence, Italy in 1990 by United Nations Member States.

She said the declaration called on governments to establish positive breastfeeding policies, including advocacy for the practice in maternal and child health programming. It is necessary to facilitate access to information, advice and support for breastfeeding and the training of health educators on the benefits and skill-sets regarding breastfeeding.

“It was emphasized that women should be free to practice breastfeeding in both the workplace and the community,” Hon Phipps said. “Any barriers must be eliminated. As Minister of State with responsibility for health, I am happy to report that at all 17 of our Nation’s health centres and four hospitals, these critical steps are being practiced and encouraged by our health care workers.”

Minister Phipps commended the staff of the Nutrition Surveillance Programme for its efforts in planning and preparing the week of activities in recognition of the importance of breastfeeding to infant health and development.

“The Ministry’s management team salutes their efforts and those of our nurses and midwives; general healthcare practitioners; and obstetricians, gynaecologists and paediatricians,” the minister said. “They tirelessly advocate that our people should – from birth through natural death – have every opportunity to lead whole and productive lives free of illness, disease, and disability through the promotion of breastfeeding from birth, and the adoption of healthy diets and lifestyle practices that together help to make us a healthy and prosperous Nation.”