This represents a nearly five-fold increase over the past 20 years - a shift that has been largely thanks to the combined efforts of breastfeeding advocates, health-care providers and the government.
In 1998 the SADHS found that just 7% of infants under the age of six months were exclusively breastfed. The latest edition found that the proportion had increased to 32% by 2016.
Breastfeeding activist and South African Breast Milk Reserve (SABR) executive director Stasha Jordan said: “The survey is welcome evidence that society can and will change its attitude to breastfeeding, given the right interventions.”
Since its inception in 2003, the SABR has set up, operated and handed over 51 human milk banks, serving more than 100 hospitals throughout South Africa.
These banks provide much-needed breast milk to both premature babies of mothers who have difficulty initiating lactation, and orphaned babies.
“We are lucky to have great partners in the provincial and national departments of health, Discovery and Netcare. Together we have helped save the lives of thousands of premature and very-low-birth-weight infants in neonatal intensive care units,” Jordan said.
Limpopo Department of Health deputy director of nutrition, Daddy Matthews, said last year the department expanded its human milk banking activities, aiming to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, by establishing the first state-of-the-art human milk banking facility in Limpopo.
To get involved with the SABR visit: www.sabr.org.za or call 0114821920 or email: [email protected]