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CARPHA Supports Breastfeeding as a Long-Term Strategy for a More Productive and Healthier Region

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August 5, 2022 – Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months benefits the infant, mother, family, community, country and environment,” states Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).  “Therefore, breastfeeding is recognised as an effective strategy in achieving regional and global goals on health, nutrition, food security, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommend that breastfeeding be initiated within 1 hour of birth, continued exclusively for the first 6 months of life, and that nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods be introduced at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond[1].

Early initiation of breastfeeding is critical to newborn survival, reducing their risk of morbidity and mortality[2]. Breastmilk provides optimal nutrition for infants for their physical and mental growth and development, along with antibodies to prevent and mitigate childhood illnesses[3].

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of over-nutrition (overweight and obesity) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) for both mother and child. Infants that are breastfed longer, have 13% lower risk of overweight and obesity and 35% lower risk of type 2 diabetes[4]. Women who breastfeed have reduced risks of postpartum overweight and obesity, 32% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, 37% lower risk of ovarian cancer and 26% lower risk of breast cancer4.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, many infants and young children do not meet the WHO and UNICEF recommendations for breastfeeding and ultimately lose out on its many benefits. Only 54% of infants initiate breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth; 37% breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of life which is below the global rate (44%); and between 31%-55% of children continue to receive breastmilk up to 2 years of age2.

Breastfeeding, more so when occurring exclusively, allows for healthier mothers and children who can in turn contribute meaningfully to the community and society at large. There is a reduced tax burden on communities and governments to ensure children are properly fed. Additionally, more funding is made available for community and national development. Reports indicate that the total global economic losses of not breastfeeding are estimated to be US$341.3 billion[5].

Breastfeeding is a naturally renewable resource that is environmentally sustainable as it does not require the use of natural resources (not even water!), provides no waste for accumulation in landfills (no packaging or disposal), and it does not pollute the environment[6].

Breastfeeding also contributes to infant and household food security[7]. Infants who are breastfed exclusively, require no other source of nutrition and are less likely to get sick thereby lessening the financial burden on the family. This allows for nutritious foods to be bought for other members of the family. This is especially important during times of economic crises, such as those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, where many households face unemployment and loss of income. The pandemic has proven to be a global threat to breastfeeding. Two recent studies in Western countries reported a decline in early initiation, exclusive and continued breastfeeding rates due to the pandemic, with one major contributing factor being a loss in support for mothers[8],[9].

Breastfeeding is particularly effective against infectious diseases because it strengthens the immune system by transferring antibodies from the mother to the child.   Mother to child transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through breastmilk has not been found to occur. The WHO and UNICEF recommendations on initiation and continuation of breastfeeding infants and young children also apply to mothers with suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease as the benefits far outweigh any potential risks[10]. Mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are encouraged to practice respiratory hygiene (wearing a mask when breastfeeding), hand hygiene (frequent hand washing, including before and after touching the baby), and routinely clean and disinfect surfaces[11]. If the mother is too unwell to breastfeed, she can be supported to feed expressed breastmilk or to relactate (re-introduce breastfeeding after a period of cessation).

This year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week “Step up for Breastfeeding – Educate and Support” is aligned with thematic area 1 of the WBW-Sustainable Development Goals 2030 campaign which highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities. It will focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society.

We all form part of the warm chain of support of breastfeeding – whether we are from or represent governments, health systems, workplaces or communities – and have a shared responsibility to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Let us all inform, anchor, engage and galvanise action to protect and support breastfeeding. A whole-of-society approach is needed to facilitate the development and implementation of regional breastfeeding policies and creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment.

This is in keeping with the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA) life course approach for the prevention of NCDs of which breastfeeding is a key factor.  CARPHA supports breastfeeding as a long-term strategy for a more productive and healthier Region and encourages mothers and families to see breastfeeding as the optimal feeding method for infants.

CARPHA has led training in the WHO/UNICEF 40 Hour Breastfeeding Counselling Course; and training of Health Professionals in the 20-Hour Course for Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative as well as implementation and certification.  The Agency has also supported Member States with the development of National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policies, Hospital Breastfeeding Policies and developed guidelines for anyone involved in the care and management of newborns, and pregnant or lactating women suspected of or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus.

CARPHA calls upon its member states to take a whole of society approach and implement and reinforce the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. By protecting and supporting breastfeeding, we are also protecting human rights and taking important steps towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no one behind in the post pandemic world.

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Bahamas News

Polio is back; 65 million missed shots in another COVID fall out

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 4, 2022 – For the first time in almost a decade a new case of polio was recorded in the United States. The case which ended in paralysis emphasizes the danger the region faces as vaccination levels drop to 30-year lows.

The World Health Organization warned in early July explained that vaccination in the region of the Americas and the rest of world was dropping rapidly because of various spin off effects precipitated by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Over 65 million infants missed out on basic vaccines in the last three years thanks to disruptions in routine healthcare, lockdowns and other circumstances. The effects are already being felt as once eradicated disease like measles and polio are once again emerging.

The Pan American Health Organization announced earlier this year the Americas are now facing another measles outbreak after having been declared free of the disease in 2016.

Dr. Jarvis Barbosa, Assistant director of PAHO said vaccination levels are now as low as they were in 1994 for measles and polio and Brazil has had several outbreaks of measles.

In the case of the United States an unvaccinated young adult developed the disease after contact with another individual vaccinated with a live version of the vaccine.

The breakout polio case in the US sent shockwaves across the country because of the severe nature of the disease. Polio is an extremely dangerous disease with no known cure. It causes paralysis in as many as 1 in 200 infected and that paralysis is permanent.

Normally very few school age children would be at risk in the Americas as the vaccine is required to start school but with the gap in vaccinations many more children are now at risk.

Polio was one of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, paralyzing and killing hundreds of thousands, especially children. Thankfully vaccinated individuals are not at risk and as such the WHO is advising that the best way to protect against polio is vaccination.

 

Photo Caption:  Child in Benin takes Polio vaccine, UNSDG

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Caribbean News

Dunn’s River Offers Special Summer Package

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#Jamaica, August 5, 2022 – Persons looking for an adventurous activity to do this summer are being encouraged to take advantage of the ‘Summa Thrills’ promotion, being offered by the world-famous Dunn’s River Falls and Park.

The promotion, which ends September 15, includes paying one cost to climb the Falls, ‘Tek-A-Hike’ and Zip over the Falls via the Chukka Falls Flyer. In addition, persons will also have access to the beach, splash pad, and other amenities.

The cost for residents is $5,000 per person and US$75 per person for non-residents. A photo identification is required to access the resident rate.

“We have partnered with CHUKKA to create this five-star experience,” Marketing Manager, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Kereen Cole-Ivey, told JIS News.

She further informed that ‘Tek-A-Hike’ is the newest product offering at Dunn’s River Falls and Park and that the promotion provides an opportunity to build awareness and renew interest in the falls and park.

‘Tek-a-Hike’ is a guided, one-hour-and-a-half hike that starts at the Tranquility Gardens and ends in the Dunn’s River Falls & Park Nursery. Here guests can purchase plants or adopt a tree as part of the park’s Reforestation and Conservation Programme.

The hike is approximately two miles and is an experience that the entire family can enjoy. Along the trail, guests will learn about the flora and fauna on the entire property, which is called the Belmont property, as well as the general history of Dunn’s River Falls and Park. They will also get a chance to visit the Belmont Great House ruins.

“Coming out of COVID-19, we thought that this (Summa Thrills) would have been a very great adventure for the family and for everyone to enjoy and have a good time,” said Mrs. Cole-Ivey, adding that the UDC has other plans in place for Dunn’s River.

Dunn’s River Falls and Park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Persons are being encouraged to book ahead via the Dunn’s River website at www.dunnsriverfallsja.com, otherwise tickets can be purchased on location.

You may also visit @dunnsriver.jamaica and @udcjamaica on Instagram or call 876 618-6052 for additional information.

The Dunn’s River Falls and Park is managed and operated by St. Ann Development Corporation (SADCO), a subsidiary of the UDC.

 

Contact: Shanna K. Salmon

Release: JIS

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Caribbean News

Carnival Cruise ordered to pay $10.2 million for passenger claiming rape by staff

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#USA, August 5, 2022 – A Miami-based Federal Court returned a more than $10.2 million verdict against Carnival Cruise Line in favour of a passenger who claims a former crew member raped her in a storage closet aboard the Carnival Miracle in 2018.

A jury issued the verdict recently in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida finding Carnival liable for damages to the plaintiff, for false imprisonment and sexual assault by a crew member, in December 2018.

The jury separately found that Carnival was not negligent and that the former crew member did not intentionally inflict emotional distress on Plaintiff.

According to a statement issued last week Tuesday, Carnival Cruise Line said the incident between the plaintiff and the former crew member was consensual and plans to appeal the court’s decision.

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