Rwanda Surpasses Global Exclusive Breastfeeding Average

In Rwanda, mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants during their first six months by 82.8 percent, above the World Health Organization’s global average of 44 percent.

This is according to a report by Africa Quantitative Sciences that takes into account the latest Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey (2019-2020) that analyzed data from a survey conducted on mothers aged 15 to 49.

According to WHO, at least 44 percent of children under six months exclusively breastfeed while the target is to reach 70 percent by 2030.

In this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which runs from August 1 to August 7, the focus is on breastfeeding and work, providing a strategic opportunity to advocate for essential maternity rights that support breastfeeding – maternity leave for a minimum of 18 weeks, preferably more than six months, and workplace accommodations after this point.

“Breast milk has been known to be the supreme food for infants and is acknowledged to have the ideal nutrition that a child needs, yet exclusive breastfeeding rates remain low in many countries putting many children at risk of illnesses, especially respiratory gastrointestinal infections,” states the report.

Globally each year, over 820,000 children under five years die from causes that would be prevented if children between 0-6 months were exclusively breastfed.

Exclusive breastfeeding is defined as an infant being breast or bottle-fed milk from birth to six months without mixing with any liquids or solids apart from medicines, vitamins, and mineral supplements.

This remains a public health challenge, especially in low and middle-income countries due to several factors that impede women from practicing effective exclusive breastfeeding including socio-demographic, cultural, and personal factors.