Supporting Women to Exclusively Breastfeed in Sierra Leone

Community Health Workers like Millicent are being trained to support women to exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life as part of World Vision's Irish Aid-funded AIM Health Plus project

This video features Joseph Musa, AIM Health Plus Project Manager, who says, "We work closely with Community Health Workers and we encourage them to work with the women at the community level where we encourage all women that deliver at health facilities to do exclusive breastfeeding."

Millicent Saidu, a Community Health Worker trained by World Vision, explains that, "the reason it is very important to give only breast milk after the baby is born is because breast milk is also known as the first vaccine because of the antibodies it carries to protect the child from diseases. Breast milk is given before any other vaccine is given. We tell women that breast milk is the best food for their babies from 0 to 6 months. We constantly advise mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively because of the health benefits."

The video also introduces us to Christiana Saidu and her baby, Tabita. Christiana says, "I have only been giving breast milk to Tabita since I gave birth to her. The CHWs who visited me when I was pregnant counselled me not to administer any food but to exclusively breastfeed her after birth until she is six months old. Because of the breast milk, Tabita is growing very healthy and strong."

Appropriate breastfeeding has a high impact on reducing infant and child mortality. Babies not exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life have a 14 times higher risk of death, including a 10 times greater risk of death from diarrhoea and 15 times greater risk death from pneumonia compared to infants who are exclusively breastfed (Lancet BF Series 2016).  

Breastfeeding is a vital part of providing every child with the healthiest start in life, just like Tabita is getting. As Millicent explained, it is a baby’s first vaccine and the best source of nutrition and can bolster brain development.