The culture and way of life in the country always prioritized the health of mothers and children. According to Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Doctor Haji Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, Minister of Health, these two groups build the foundation for a healthy, prosperous and developed nation. In this regard, Brunei Darussalam continues to sustain efforts that encourage mothers to breastfeed. A key initiative has been the extension of maternity leave for civil servants from 8 weeks to 15 weeks to support breastfeeding initiation. More recently in April 2017, Brunei Darussalam has introduced a comprehensive scheme that provides free breast pumps for all newborns to ensure that they are well taken care of during this important formative period.

The Minister of Health says that these developments serve as opportunities for mothers to start exclusive breastfeeding and truly give their children the best possible start in life. Here are some key ways: Start breastfeeding within one hour of birth, if possible. From birth to six months of age, feed babies exclusively with breast milk - not to give them other food or drink, and feed them frequently, that is, as often as they demand. From six months of age, introduce a variety of safe, appropriate and nutritious family foods to complement breastfeeding and continue breastfeeding until your child is two years old. Every mothers are also encourage to seek help from doctors and nurses in practicing breastfeeding.

Through breastfeeding, breast milk gives the baby more than just good nutrition. The breastfeed child will benefit in terms of development, higher performance in intelligence tests, and immunity from infections, and lower risk of obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in later life. In addition, breastfeeding has medical and psychological benefits for the mother with faster maternal recovery, a return to their normal weight, and reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Ongoing efforts to promote breastfeeding is well-aligned with the Ministry of Health strategic priorities, that is, to inculcate that health is everyone business as well as to prevent and control non communicable diseases (NCDs). Towards this, the Ministry will need continuous support from the whole society. Whether a woman is at home, among their families and friends, or working in the formal or non-formal setting, she needs to feel supported and empowered to claim the right to breastfeed on behalf of both herself and her baby. It is everyone's role to encourage the mothers, to make them feel comfortable and to enable them to make this important decision for the health and well-being of their child.

Source: Radio Television Brunei