The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, celebrated World Breastfeeding Week by making it easier for new mothers to provide for the health and nourishment of their babies. From August 1-7, the USAID’s Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project, together with the Republican Center for Health Promotion and other local partners, launched new breastfeeding corners in 10 Family Medicine Centers across Jalalabad and Naryn Oblasts. These corners provide breastfeeding mothers private space and equipment to feed their babies, as well as informational materials about the benefits of breastfeeding in children’s growth and development.
Despite the best evidence and advice of scientists and doctors, only 60 percent of newborns in the Kyrgyz Republic are breastfed within an hour after birth and only 41 percent of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed. These factors contribute to malnutrition, anemia, and poor growth among Kyrgyzstani children. Nearly one in every five Kyrgyzstani children is stunted (too short for their age), and two in five children suffer from anemia.
USAID SPRING works to improve maternal and child nutrition, prevent stunting, and reduce anemia among women and children. The project educates communities, trains health workers, and conducts community outreach to promote optimal breastfeeding, better nutrition, hand-washing, and safe food preservation and storage. Since 2014, USAID SPRING has trained more than 5,500 healthcare providers in 280 healthcare facilities and has reached over 270,000 mothers of children under two. With USAID support, 11 health facilities have already received their certification under the globally-recognized Mother and Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, the international standard for quality of care in promoting breastfeeding, healthy nutrition practices, and mother-baby bonding.