The Ministry of Health held its Third Breastfeeding Festival as part of National Breastfeeding Month. New and expectant mothers attended the festival, along with representatives from health centers and residents from Managua’s various neighborhoods. The slogan for the festival was “For you it is milk, for the little ones it is life, love and affection."
The Ministry of Health's Secretary General, Enrique Beteta Acevedo, highlighted in his speech the many advantages of breastfeeding, especially the close bond between mother and baby. “In Nicaragua we should be proud of ourselves as breastfeeding is a well-founded practice that we must keep on promoting within families, communities and health centres,” he said.
Health centre officials displayed many murals throughout the festival to illustrate the advantages of breastfeeding. The Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Enrique Beteta Acevedo, awarded a prize to the most creative mural. Health officials advised young mothers on the advantages of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. At a regional level, Nicaragua stands out with a 76% success rate for breastfeeding.
Breast milk contains antibodies that helps protect infants from diarrhea and pneumonia (among other illnesses), which are the two leading causes of child mortality worldwide. Breastfeeding provides important benefits for the infants, their families and society in general, promoting long-term wellbeing into adulthood, increasing the opportunities to make a significant economic contributions to both family and community.
As part of the global strategy of the first 1.000 days of life (from pregnancy to the second year of birth), WFP promotes breastfeeding as a key element in childhood health and for the prevention of chronic malnutrition. WFP, in strategic partnership with the Ministry of Health in Nicaragua, carries out the Mother-to-Child Health and Nutrition Programme, directed towards both new and expectant mothers, and children under 2 years of age in nutritional risk.
“I congratulate all the mothers here who breastfeed their newly borns, because they are convinced it is the best possible start they can give their children to ensure a prosperous, healthy and happy future,” said WFP Country Director, Helmut W. Rauch, during opening ceremony of the festival.
Arlen Gonzalez (13) a sixth grader of the 14 de Septiembre School was one of the participants in the poetry competition about breastfeeding that took place during the festival. “My milk nourishes you and calms your crying, it protects you nestled in your little white blanket. I nurse you in a cozy warmth whilst dreaming of a wonderful future,” she recited to the crowd.
Ericka del Rosario Carcache, a young mother who is presently breastfeeding her 9-month-old daughter, shared her feelings with the festival attendees. “I feel proud to give my breast to my baby and I am grateful to the staff at the health centre for the advice and motivation they gave me. Thanks to all the nutrients that I provide to my daughter through the milk, she is a healthy and smart little girl. At nine months she is learning to walk and she can say ‘mommy,’” said Carcache.