Victor Maphosa in Mahusekwa
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has challenged the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure that no woman dies while giving birth.
The First Lady made the call while officiating at the launch of the 2018 National World Breastfeeding Week here yesterday.
She urged the ministry to ensure that health personnel were professional and competent and called for stringent measures on any act of negligence by health personnel.
“We hear cases where most women die while giving birth and in most cases it’s due to negligence by those who would be assigned to take care of them in health institutions,” said First Lady Mnangagwa to the cheers of thousands of women present.
“I call upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to devise a law which can be applied to those who are found guilty of negligence. Let women die of natural causes and not because of child birth.”
Turning to breastfeeding, the First Lady said it was not only a woman’s issue, but everyone should be involved.
“Breastfeeding is not a woman’s issue, but is for all of us in all segments of society, from business owners to family members and Government leaders to citizens,” she said.
“We all need to be involved in safeguarding women’s and children’s rights to breastfeeding. Success in breastfeeding is not the sole responsibility of a woman. The protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding is a collective societal responsibility where everyone has an obligation to fulfil.
“A woman cannot successfully breastfeed her child when she is stressed, when she has no suitable food to eat, so men should take the responsibility of providing a conducive environment for their families.”
First Lady Mnangagwa said societal challenges faced by most women, including domestic violence, hindered the successful breastfeeding of children.
She urged women to breastfeed their children adequately, saying a well breastfed child becomes a healthy child.
“Zimbabwe is a breastfeeding nation with 98 out of every 100 children being breastfed at some point in their lives. However, we still have some loose ends, which need to be strengthened when it comes to observing breastfeeding recommendations for optimum results,” she said.
“Sixty-one out of 100 children are exclusively breastfed, meaning they are given breast milk only up to the age of six months. Only 11 out of a 100 children are breastfed up to the recommended two years.
“Vanamai vazhinji vachiri kuyamwisa kwe18 months dzataikurudzira dziya, asi izvezvi tave kuti mwana ngaayamwe kwe two years kuti pfungwa dzinyatsovhurike uye akure aine hutano hwakanaka.”
First Lady Mnangagwa said this year’s commemorations were aimed at highlighting the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to the health and welfare of children, as well as a wider push for maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction and food security.
“This year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme ‘Breastfeeding Foundation of Life’ means that breastfeeding is a universal solution that levels the playing field, giving everyone a fair start in life,” she said.
“It provides a foundation for everyone’s health, well-being and survival.”
In 2016, the United Nations placed nutrition at the heart of sustainable development by declaring 2016 to 2025 as the UN Decade for Action on Nutrition.