Improper breastfeeding linked to child mortality in Tanzania

By Pascal Mwanache

Lack of clear planning and programming in provision of maternal education has put the lives of Tanzanian children in danger, as most women are not aware of the merits of exclusive breastfeeding for their children.

According to experts, exclusive breast feeding for the first six months will reduce the child mortality rate by 13 percent in Tanzania, but most women fail to make the right decision as to whether or not  breast feed at the given time since they have no clear education on how to properly breast fed their children.

“No other liquids or complementary food is to be given in the first six months, but unfortunately women’s awareness on this matter is low in Tanzania and therefore clear education plans need to be put in place” said Dr.Donald Mbando, the chief government Doctor.

According to Dr. Mbando, only 49 percent of Tanzanian women have succeeded in exclusively breastfeeding their children for the first six months while 30 per cent of Tanzanian children are instead fed complementary foods, especially liquids.

Dr. Jane Rose, a child health specialist at Amana Hospital in Dar es Salaam, pointed out that exclusive breastfeeding must involve breast milk directly from the female human breast.

“Most women in Tanzania have no access to maternal health education, and as a result women in most cases use infant formula from a baby bottle or other container, and end up endangering their children’s lives,” she says.

Rachel Michael, a breastfeeding resident of Dar es salaam, said that a lack of awareness on proper breastfeeding is what leads most women in Tanzania to adopt the use of baby bottles to feed their children, as well as feeding them other liquids and food stuffs.

She also added that women in Tanzania need educational support from the government, which should be taken into account since most of them are not well educated.

Pascal is an ex-Seminarian who is an advocate for human rights, especially the right to life. Pascal is guided by the philosophy “be the change you wish to see in the world.” 


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