The World Health Organization has reported that the rate of exclusive breastfeeding up to six months in Peru increased in the last decade or so, and is well above the global average.
According to the statistics, 67.5 percent of Peruvian mothers are breastfeeding, compared to 57 percent back in 2000. That figure is nearly double the global level of 38 percent.
Peru has been making progress, but that progress has slowed in the last few years specially in cities where there has been a downward trend of breastfeeding rates.
However, the WHO says that 55 percent of the babies born in Peru begin breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
According to an article by the Andina news agency about the WHO study, rates are lower among those born in health facilities, those that delivered by health professionals, those born in urban areas and those whose mothers have higher income and education.
In high-income countries, the trend is being reversed. Mothers with higher income and more education are more likely to breastfeed.
“Although Peru has been a leader in terms of regulations to promote breastfeeding, we are seeing increases in donations of infant formula to mothers and in marketing and “gifts” to health facility staff and health services from formula makers,” said Fernando Leanes, WHO’s Representative in Peru.
Leanes says that undermines the successes of the past few decades. Yet he assures that WHO, UNICEF and a wide group of NGOs are now working together with the government to step up support for breastfeeding once more.
Peru is developing a nine-year strategy to strengthen the rate of breastfeeding.
The Andean country hopes to see an increase in breastfeeding up to six months and continued breast feeding up to 24 months by 2 percent per year up to 2021.