Nairobi, 12th August 2015:- Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA), an independent, non-profit making organisation and the non-commercial arm of Nestlé, today held its biannual scientific conference in Nairobi. The one day meeting was attended by over 400 medical and nutrition experts drawn from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Angola, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Kenya.
The 2015 global call for action by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to support women to breastfeed while at work is the key agenda at the conference which has also adopted the theme “Breastfeeding at the work place, it can work.”
“This scientific meeting has been organised by the NNIA Board members from various African countries in close collaboration with the Kenyan Health Practitioners who will lead the discussion and rallying support behind researchers and scientists working towards optimizing breastfeeding rates (exclusive and sustained for 2 years),” said Professor Fredrick Were, Dean Faculty of Medicine at The University of Nairobi who is also a member of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa board.
According to Dr. Rose Kamenwa, one of the key note speakers and an Assistant Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health Aga Khan University Hospital, poor breastfeeding and infant feeding practices in Kenya contribute to more than 10,000 deaths per year and the challenges for child survival in Kenya remain enormous.
At the same, the Kenya Healthcare Federation (KHF) which is the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) health sector representative body called on all employers to explore solutions at the work place to support the breastfeeding mother.
“This will go a long way in improving the outcomes of breastfeeding where the mothers on one hand will have significant health benefits associated with breastfeeding including bonding with their children while the employer on the other hand will realize improved productivity as well as loyalty at the work place,” said Dr. Amit N. Thakker, CEO, Kenya HealthCare Federation.
Hon. Prof. Ruth K. Oniang’o, Editor-in-Chief, African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND) who is also the Founder, Rural Outreach Program (ROP) Africa asked employers to heed this call in their support of child survival, working mothers’ health and productivity and contribute to reduction of stunting in Kenyan children.
“Mothers need to be supported to breastfeed at the workplace. We need to borrow a leaf from companies already doing this without having to reinvent the wheel. The Kenyan baby needs and deserves this, and mothers need to be spared stress that comes with having to leave a young baby to uncertainty,” said Hon. Prof. Ruth K. Oniang’o.
The NNIA is a virtual institute and its vision is to build a future in which people throughout the African continent will have longer and healthier lives. It partners with healthcare professionals by offering them nutrition information, education and a platform for networking and the sharing of new research and developments. Access to nutrition information is offered to health care professionals on the African website www.nnia.org and also on the global website www.nestlenutrition-institute.org.
“The institute fosters ‘Science for Better Nutrition’ because we are convinced that innovative, science-based nutrition can help enhance the quality of people’s lives all over Africa,” said Professor Fredrick Were.