GENERAL SANTOS CITY, (PNA) — Nutrition and health advocates are pushing for the creation of peer counselor’s group in nearby Koronadal City in South Cotabato province in support of the implementation of exclusive breastfeeding in the area.
Dr. Mary Christine Castro, Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP) project manager, said Tuesday they are set to train at least 90 peer counselors in the province through the “Breastfeeding TSEK” (Tama, Sapat at Eksklusibo) initiative.
The Department of Health (DOH) earlier launched “Breastfeeding TSEK,” which encourages mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth and up to six months “with nothing except breast milk given to babies.”
The campaign aims to establish a supportive community and to promote public awareness on the health benefits of breastfeeding.
Castro said the training, which will be held in Koronadal City, will be conducted in three batches composing 30 peer counselors each.
“If we have peer counselors in every community, mothers will have somebody to support them,” she said.
Castro said they are advocating the activation of peer counselors and the breastfeeding support system since “breastfeeding needs practice, observation and support.”
She said the TSEK counselors will be mobilized to build community support and later conduct regular monthly meetings with midwives to share and learn experiences on actual counseling.
South Cotabato, specifically Koronadal City, was among the five additional areas identified by NCP for the implementation of the program, which is supported by the World Health Organization and the government of Spain.
“Along with the cities of Iligan, Baguio, Puerto Princesa and Bacolod, the city of Koronadal will be establishing a group of peer counselors to help out village mothers on proper breastfeeding,” Castro explained.
Teresita Tenebro, DOH-Region 12’s nutrition program manager, cited that inadequate knowledge about breastfeeding, appropriate complementary foods to give and good feeding practices are among the causes of malnutrition among infants in the area.
She said among the many health benefits of breastfeeding are lower risk of diarrhea, pneumonia and chronic illnesses.
A report released by NCP said Region 12 presently has an exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) rate of 51.7 percent.
The DOH-12, in a separate report, cited that South Cotabato posted an EBF rate of 90 percent.