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Archive for August 6th, 2009

WEST AFRICA: The hour-window to find the breast

Posted by African Press International on August 6, 2009



Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
WHO recommends breastfeeding within the first hour after birth (file photo)

OUAGADOUGOU, – One of natures most nutrient-packed foods, breast milk, is thrown out by mothers in parts of West Africa who do not see the value of colostrum the thick, yellow form of breast milk that appears in the earliest days after delivery calling it dirty, worthless and not recognizing it as milk.

This is the fourth article in a five-part series on the impact of breastfeeding on child and maternal mortality in West Africa.

Ami Ouedraogo, 22, a mother in the northwest Burkina Faso village of Zincko showed IRIN what she did with the dirty milk following her pregnancy by squeezing her breast. It [colostrum] was dirty and I needed to get rid of it in order to be able to feed my daughter correctly, said the two-time mother, who imitated tossing liquid to the ground.

Her nine-month-old daughter, Ami, was being treated for malnutrition at a Red Cross nutrition clinic in Zincko.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers begin breastfeeding within the first hour of a childs life in order to boost both the childs and mothers chances of survival: early breastfeeding produces a hormone that helps the mothers uterus stop bleeding and colostrum packs high concentrations of antibodies and nutrients for the child, WHO nutrition departments Carmen Casanovas told IRIN.

Breastfeeding series
ANALYSIS: Breast not always seen as best in Burkina Faso
BURKINA FASO: The path to mother’s milk is paved with kola nuts
NIGER: Passing along hunger but little milk


A quarter of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa which equals more than one million a year take place during the first 28 days of life, according to the NGO Save the Children.

UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) reported on a 2007 medical study that found breastfeeding within the first hour can reduce newborn deaths by more than 20 percent.

Health clinic director Soumala Salembere of Ziga village in Burkina Fasos northwest told IRIN he and two other health staff counsel expectant mothers about the importance of early breastfeeding. Yet, when IRIN asked a woman at the clinic who had given birth to twins 20 minutes earlier what mothers should do with colostrum, she replied: We throw it out. It is not good for our children.

It is not enough to simply tell women why early breastfeeding is so important, said WHOs Casanovas. If you just tell a mother she needs to breastfeed immediately after birth, she will not necessarily do it. Someone trusted needs to talk to her and work with her beliefs.

Peer counselling and mother support groups have been able to get the message across when health workers can not, according to a 2008 multi-agency report on community interventions to change breastfeeding practices.

And when there are no trained birthing attendants or health workers, mothers in the community may be the only option, said Casanovas.

Some women do not know colostrum is milk, said nutritionist Marcel Daba Bengaly, who is working on a national study on why so few women in Burkina Faso follow international recommendations for breastfeeding. If you ask them whether they gave their children the first milk [colostrum], the women reply yes because for them, the first milk is the more recognizable form of milk that follows the colostrum.

More than one-third of surveyed mothers in Burkina Faso, 46 percent in Mali, 48 percent in Niger and 23 percent in Senegal reported breastfeeding within one hour of giving birth, according to the countries most recent demographic and health surveys, while 60 percent of women reported the same in a 2008 rapid nutrition assessment in Mauritania.

But national averages may be skewed if communities that do not normally breastfeed within the first hour are not included in the sample, said WHOs Casanovas. Respondents included women who gave birth within the past five years.

Some women may inaccurately report how they breastfeed said WHOs Casanovas. Some of these surveyors are asking women years after a delivery. Mothers may not remember. She said WHO is recommending survey improvements to increase reporting accuracy.

Casanovas added that a womans delivery experience may affect her perception of time. If she had a good experience, she may think very little time passed before she breastfed, whereas someone else who had a painful delivery will think a long time lapsed before she produced breast milk. In both cases, their perceptions of time may be inaccurate, said the doctor.

pt/ajsource.nation.ke

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Refugee influx strains Daadab camps

Posted by African Press International on August 6, 2009

By Mike Owuor

If she had her way, Ms Hawa Abdirahman, 60, would have carried her bullet-scarred house in central Mogadishu, Somalia, to Hagadera Refugee Camp in Daadab, northern Kenya.

Her wish is understandable. Hawa, a widow who arrived in the camp in May after a strenuous eight-day journey, lives in a tiny room with wattle walls and earthen floor. Incredibly, this is also what nine other people call home.

Lying side by side at night on ragged mats, space is scarce, ensuring sleep is an art form where one can only make half turns for fear of bumping into the next person. Hawa and her two children are duly registered by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), but have been forced to host friends and clan members who have recently fled the fighting between the Islamist Al-Shabaab militia and the weak Transitional Federal Government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. With nowhere to turn as the registration process continues, the new arrivals seek shelter among those already settled, putting a strain on the limited resources.

Somali refugees at Dadaab camp. The camp meant for 90,000 asylum seekers now hosts more than 288,000 refugees [PHOTOS: MIKE OWUOR/STANDARD]

“My house in Mogadishu has more than enough room,” she says, through a translator. “But I cannot go back because of the war.”

For 18 years, following the fall of the Siad Barre regime and her countrys slide into anarchy, Hawa has perfected the art of slipping in and out of her central Mogadishu home during lulls in the fighting.

As bullets whizzed past and mortar shells hurtled overhead, she would wait for a brief lull to drag her family of five to safer neighbourhoods or, when the fighting was really bad, move to nearby towns like Marka. A risky game of hide-and-seek it may have been, but Hawa always believed things would get better.

Resolve shattered

“The last thing I wanted was to leave Mogadishu for a refugee camp in Yemen, Kenya, Djibouti or Ethiopia,” she says.

But that was until May when her hitherto steely resolve was shattered after mortar fire rattled her neighbourhood, forcing her to flee to the port city of Kismayu. Alongside other families, they hired a van to the Kenya-Somalia border, which has officially remained closed since January 2007. They had to hire guides to lead them through panya routes (shortcuts) into Dadaab.

Figures released by UNHCR estimate that at least 6,500 refugees arrive every month. Last year the number was 5,000 a month. Like Hawa, most had endured the fiercest fighting over the years to remain in their country, but had eventually been forced out.

“This has put a strain on protection of refugees and provision of basic services,” says UNHCR spokesman Emmanuel Nyabera.

When it was established in the early 1990s, Dadaab, which consists of three camps (Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley), was meant to accommodate 90,000 refugees. But Nyabera says by the end of last month the number had reached 288,508.

This, he adds, means that even after the new arrivals are registered, UNHCR has no land to allocate them to build shelter. Services like provision of water, healthcare, education and sanitation have also been strained.

“We urgently need to be allocated land in Dadaab for the new arrivals. We have identified a site at Jaranjira for a new camp but are still waiting for a nod from the Government before starting construction,” says Nyabera.

Solution sought

So protracted has this approval to build the new camp been for the last two years that this week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antnio Guterres led a delegation from Geneva in a mission to seek a solution. Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister, was in the camp on Tuesday. He described the situation in Daadab as “dramatic” and “the most difficult camp situation in the world”.

He met President Kibaki and top Government officials yesterday on the issue. The Government pledged to provide more land for the camps.

“We are grateful for the support the Government and the host community have provided so far. But there is need to allocate more resources to improve the situation in the camp and support the local community,” said Guterres.

He says apart from the additional land, there were plans to relocate some of the refugees to Kakuma, a camp in the northwest near the border with Sudan.

But Fafi MP Aden Sugow, in whose constituency part of the camp lies, says there is no need to move the refugees: “The Government has an obligation to provide extra land. There is need to resolve the issue because the congestion has put a strain on the local community and the environment.”

But Mr Peter Kusimba, Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Immigration, says the matter “is at the highest level” and will be resolved soon.

This might be good news for new arrivals like Halima Ali Mohamed, 35. The Standard found the mother of eight in a queue of about 80 others at a UNHCR field office waiting to be registered. If a new camp is not built soon, she and her family may be forced to look for luckier friends and clan members.

source.standard.ke

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Clinton – Obama’s top diplomat: US won’t interfere in Kenya affairs

Posted by African Press International on August 6, 2009

ByALPHONCE SHIUNDU

In Summary

  • Mrs Clinton urges civil society to push for change.
  • She challenged religious groups in Kenya to spearhead the healing and reconciliation efforts.

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has insisted that America will not interfere with the running of Kenyas coalition government.

Speaking at a public talk in the University of Nairobi on Thursday, Mrs Clinton said that apart from piling pressure on the coalition government, there was very little her country could do to influence the political situation.

The US cannot solve Kenyas problems we cannot dictate to you how to run this government; it is not up to us, she said.

The answers to Kenyas challenges lie with Kenyans.

While responding to questions from the audience, Mrs Clinton avoided direct reprimand to the coalition government, instead, pledging to help the civil society to change the regime.

Mrs Clinton urged the civil society to keep pushing for reforms.

I work for a President who believes in hope, she said.

One participant, Joshua Nyamori, had asked the US Secretary of State about her impression of the political will in regard to the implementation of the reform agenda.

There are people within the leadership who understand the necessity of these reforms, whether theyll be successful or not is still up in the air, she replied.

Mr Martin Oloo of the Law Society of Kenya sought a clarification on Americas position regarding free and fair polls and the emerging trend where disputed elections transform into power-sharing deals.

The US Secretary replied that once the elections are done, her government is left with a very tough choice.

While on one hand imposing sanctions would punish the voters, working with an illegitimate government casts doubts about the consistency of Americas foreign policies.

Holding elections that are free and fair is something every government owes to its citizens, she said.

Terming Kenya as a very political country where everybody has a political opinion, Mrs Clinton asked those in the civil society to join politics and try to change the system from within.

Start now, she said.

The pledge to support Kenyas relatively vibrant civil society led to a call to all Kenyans to submit their ideas to a special portal on the website of the US Embassy in Nairobi.

Mrs Clinton advised Kenyans to send their questions and ideas on specific issues touching on US foreign policy. The State Department will then address all these issues.

Use the website to tell us what you think we can do to help you make your country better, she said.

Her call against corruption in government continued, though this time she asked the youth to use new platforms like Twitter and Facebook to protest against corruption– as opposed to rowdy street demonstrations.

She restated the USs commitment in mending relations with Kenyas Muslims. She said President Obamas recent trip to Cairo (Egypt) was the beginning of dialogue with Muslims.

She challenged religious groups in Kenya to spearhead the healing and reconciliation efforts.

For the first time in her Kenyan tour, Mrs Clinton subtly joined the Mau Forest debate terming the one percent forest cover in Kenya as a terrible position.

She said that even as the US worried about climate change, Kenya has to take care of its own microclimate.

The Secretary of State was responding to Mrs Grace Akumu from an environmental lobby group, who petitioned the US to scale down its green house emissions.

Accept your responsibility in increasing the global warming, Ms Akumu told the Secretary of State.

The public discussion at the university was broadcast live by at least three major local Television channels.

It was moderated by seasoned journalists Fareed Zakaria and Beatrice Marshall and lasted 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton said the US will impose sanctions on the countries funding terrorist organizations in Somalia.

She termed the many refugees holed up in camps in Northern Kenya and Nairobi as a tragedy.

There is a lot that Kenyans have to worry about, she said.

source.nation.ke

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WEST AFRICA: The hour-window to find the breast

Posted by African Press International on August 6, 2009



Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
WHO recommends breastfeeding within the first hour after birth (file photo)

OUAGADOUGOU, – One of natures most nutrient-packed foods, breast milk, is thrown out by mothers in parts of West Africa who do not see the value of colostrum the thick, yellow form of breast milk that appears in the earliest days after delivery calling it dirty, worthless and not recognizing it as milk.

This is the fourth article in a five-part series on the impact of breastfeeding on child and maternal mortality in West Africa.

Ami Ouedraogo, 22, a mother in the northwest Burkina Faso village of Zincko showed IRIN what she did with the dirty milk following her pregnancy by squeezing her breast. It [colostrum] was dirty and I needed to get rid of it in order to be able to feed my daughter correctly, said the two-time mother, who imitated tossing liquid to the ground.

Her nine-month-old daughter, Ami, was being treated for malnutrition at a Red Cross nutrition clinic in Zincko.

World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers begin breastfeeding within the first hour of a childs life in order to boost both the childs and mothers chances of survival: early breastfeeding produces a hormone that helps the mothers uterus stop bleeding and colostrum packs high concentrations of antibodies and nutrients for the child, WHO nutrition departments Carmen Casanovas told IRIN.


A quarter of all child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa which equals more than one million a year take place during the first 28 days of life, according to the NGO Save the Children.

UN Childrens Fund (UNICEF) reported on a 2007 medical study that found breastfeeding within the first hour can reduce newborn deaths by more than 20 percent.

Health clinic director Soumala Salembere of Ziga village in Burkina Fasos northwest told IRIN he and two other health staff counsel expectant mothers about the importance of early breastfeeding. Yet, when IRIN asked a woman at the clinic who had given birth to twins 20 minutes earlier what mothers should do with colostrum, she replied: We throw it out. It is not good for our children.

It is not enough to simply tell women why early breastfeeding is so important, said WHOs Casanovas. If you just tell a mother she needs to breastfeed immediately after birth, she will not necessarily do it. Someone trusted needs to talk to her and work with her beliefs.

Peer counselling and mother support groups have been able to get the message across when health workers can not, according to a 2008 multi-agency report on community interventions to change breastfeeding practices.

And when there are no trained birthing attendants or health workers, mothers in the community may be the only option, said Casanovas.

Some women do not know colostrum is milk, said nutritionist Marcel Daba Bengaly, who is working on a national study on why so few women in Burkina Faso follow international recommendations for breastfeeding. If you ask them whether they gave their children the first milk [colostrum], the women reply yes because for them, the first milk is the more recognizable form of milk that follows the colostrum.

More than one-third of surveyed mothers in Burkina Faso, 46 percent in Mali, 48 percent in Niger and 23 percent in Senegal reported breastfeeding within one hour of giving birth, according to the countries most recent demographic and health surveys, while 60 percent of women reported the same in a 2008 rapid nutrition assessment in Mauritania.

But national averages may be skewed if communities that do not normally breastfeed within the first hour are not included in the sample, said WHOs Casanovas. Respondents included women who gave birth within the past five years.

Some women may inaccurately report how they breastfeed said WHOs Casanovas. Some of these surveyors are asking women years after a delivery. Mothers may not remember. She said WHO is recommending survey improvements to increase reporting accuracy.

Casanovas added that a womans delivery experience may affect her perception of time. If she had a good experience, she may think very little time passed before she breastfed, whereas someone else who had a painful delivery will think a long time lapsed before she produced breast milk. In both cases, their perceptions of time may be inaccurate, said the doctor.

pt/aj source.irinnews.org

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