SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG
AT WORLD BREASTFEEDING WEEK CELEBRATION AND THE LAUNCHING OF “MAKING PENANG BREASTFEEDING FRIENDLY” INITIATIVE
5 August 2018
The TOP, Komtar, Penang
Yang Berhormat Nurul Izzah
Member of Parliament for Permatang Pauh
Yang Berhormat Lim Siew Khim
ADUN Sungai Pinang
Autumn Tan Chiew Whoi of JCI Pearl
Dato’ Dr. Anwar Fazal
Chairperson Emeritus of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
Dr. Amal Omer-Salim
Executive Director of World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA)
JCI Senator Kelvin Chew
Junior Chamber International Malaysia National President
Ms. Zendieey Lee
Junior Chamber International Pearl President
Dr. Thomas Tean Wing Nyin
Chief Operating Officer of Penang Adventist Hospital
Dr Rokiah Bt Mohd
Representative of Penang State Health Director
Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Sr Haji Rozali Mohamud
Yang Dipertua Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP)
Datin Hajah Che Limah binti Ujang
Pengerusi PUSPANITA, Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai
Ms. Ong Bee Leng
Chief Executive Officer of Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC)
Advisor of Mother-to-Mother Peer Support Group
Friends of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to wish all a very warm welcome to today’s event to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2018 and to launch the Making Penang Breastfeeding Friendly (MPBF) initiative.
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a worldwide campaign recognized by the United Nations. WBW is celebrated in over 170 countries all over the world. The special official week is celebrated in most countries from 1st to 7th August 2018. Some countries celebrate it during other months of the year. Malaysia recognizes the importance of breastfeeding and encourages all to celebrate the week using public events to create awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding.
In Penang, we are celebrating WBW today, Sunday, 5 August 2018 at The TOP, KOMTAR. The WBW celebration event is organised by the appointed organiser, Junior Chambers International Pearl (JCI Pearl), a youth organization and the appointed co-organiser, Penang Adventist Hospital and coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). “Syabas” to them for organizing this important event.
The state is proud to have an international organization such as WABA based in Penang. Dato’ (Dr.) Anwar Fazal, the founder of WABA, is the brainchild of WBW. WABA is a network of individuals and organisations worldwide, advocating for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and is the worldwide Coordinator for WBW since 1992. According to WABA’s Executive Director Dr Amal Omer-Salim, “World Breastfeeding Week is a powerful tool to encourage citizens all around the world to join hands and take action to create an enabling environment for breastfeeding”.
No one can deny the value of breastmilk that it is the best first food for infants. Breastfeeding is the golden standard in infant feeding that ensures the health, development, wellbeing and survival of children and women, both in the short and long term. It benefits families, societies and the environment. Breastfeeding is therefore the foundation of life and a cornerstone of sustainable development. The rationale is echoed in the theme for this year’s WBW that emphasizes “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life”.
Breastfeeding is everyone’s concern, not just between mother and baby. Everyone needs to support it. There are many barriers to creating an enabling and supportive environment for women to breastfeed. They include lack of enabling health services, family and community support systems and workplace and employment policies. Aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes also worsens the situation. We need to work as a team to advocate for breastfeeding as an essential part of good nutrition, health and wellbeing.
I fully support and endorse the initiative coordinated by WABA to “Making Penang Breastfeeding Friendly” (MPBF). WABA’s initiative, which started as a Mother Support group’s plea to help breastfeeding mothers, has now brought in more than 20 organisations and institutions that together form MPBF. The MPBF initiative is being launched today in conjunction with the WBW 2018 celebration. This initiative brings together the different sectors and stakeholders such as the health sector, community sector and workplace sector to plan and work towards achieving a breastfeeding friendly state within 5 years’ time.
The State of Penang is also part of the Sustainable Penang Initiative (SPI) and is committed to improving conditions for vulnerable populations such as women and children. SPI already includes breastfeeding as an indicator and thus shows a commitment to improve breastfeeding rates. The lessons learnt from MPBF will be promoted as a model to the other states of Malaysia and beyond and for incorporation into Sustainable Development Goal Initiatives.
The MPBF logo of the initiative shows fathers as the main support for mothers to achieve success in breastfeeding. The support from other family members, community, and employers are also vital.
In previous years, there were many groups/organisations that celebrated the WBW separately. This year, however, the MPBF Committee has come together to jointly organize the WBW event. I applaud this move to celebrate the event in a big way to raise awareness to the public. It is definitely a sustainable move.
Finally, I call upon the public to support the initiative to Making Penang a Breastfeeding Friendly State. Achieving breastfeeding friendliness will contribute to a healthier, prosperous and more sustainable State of Penang.