MANILA (Reuters) - About 10,000 mothers gathered on Wednesday in nearly 300 state and private hospitals, day-care centres and parks across the Philippines to raise awareness of breastfeeding and try to set a Guinness record for the event.
Only 16 percent of mothers in the Philippines were practising breastfeeding, an extraordinarily low rate for a poor country, said the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which warned of serious health risks for infants.
“Breastfeeding is on the decline in the Philippines,” Dale Rutstein, UNICEF’s chief of communications, told Reuters at an open-air basketball court in Manila, where more than 1,000 mothers took part in the simultaneous breastfeeding.
Nearly 9,000 women were taking part in the event elsewhere across the archipelago, aiming to set a Guinness record for the most number of mothers simultaneously breastfeeding their children. Guinness were to rule on the record attempt in three weeks.
UNICEF said breastfeeding provided the required nutrition for babies, and also reduced the risks of exposing them to diseases arising from unhygienic preparation of infant formula.
“It’s a beautiful way to relate to my child,” Elvira Henares Esguerra, a dermatologist and mother of a five-year-old boy, told Reuters.
“It’s not only food, it’s not only the perfect food for any infant from zero to six months, but the perfect milk for any child.