Calls made for favourable workplace and breastfeeding programmes

By Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor

CORPORATES have been challenged to invest in favourable workplace and breastfeeding programmes to mitigate health care costs lost productivity and absenteeism.

While most women in rural areas have embraced recommended guidelines to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months and continue for two years, the challenge lies with working mothers as they juggle between demanding work schedules and raising healthy children.

“Working mothers usually have challenges where the workplaces are not baby friendly you find some women are working 9 to 5 every single day and might barely have time to go home early and breastfeed their children, they might not have enough breaks at work to either express breast milk to leave at home.

“At some workplace places if its the informal sector most mothers just carry their children to work but in the formal sector a mother can’t go to work with her child so we need to work towards getting the formal workplace more baby-friendly.

“Some companies and government institutions like the parliament of Zimbabwe have set aside breastfeeding rooms for their employees and female parliamentarians and we implore other companies to follow suit,” said Chj Chikanda an Advocacy and Communications officer National Nutrition Unit in the ministry of Health and Child Care.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe is one of the few organisations which have managed to set aside a breastfeeding room for nursing members of Parliaments and staff.

“As we celebrate the world breastfeeding week, Parliament of Zimbabwe further urges both public and private sectors to take a stand and invest in breastfeeding rooms. Facilities must be put in place to ensure mothers can comfortably, safely and privately express breastmilk. This, therefore, lowers health care costs, creates healthier families and strengthens the development of societies,” said Senator Mabel Chinomona.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is among some of the companies implementing the International Labour Organisation Maternal Protection Convention on maternity leave and breastfeeding hours.

“Breastfeeding mothers need support be it from family, colleagues and their bosses. If the mothers are not supported emotionally it accepts the production of milk which will in turn affect the baby and production at work. At ZBC, we do have maternity and breastfeeding policies. For maternity, it’s 98 days and for our breastfeeding policy it’s six months from the day the mother returns to work from maternity leave,” said Chido Karodza, Senior Human Resources and Administration Officer at ZBC.

The World Health Organisation (W.H.O) in conjunction with The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care in promoting best breastfeeding practices to reduce paediatric illnesses.