Posted by: Admin | January 13, 2014

My wish for the New 2014 Year

Do you know that undernutrition is associated with 45% of child mortality? That, globally, 162 million children under five have been estimated to have growth delays, and that almost 100 million had low weight-for-height, as a consequence of poor feeding and repeated infections? Do you know that about 220,000 child lives could be saved every year with the promotion of optimal breastfeeding until 6 months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond, with the addition of appropriate complementary foods?

Many children get sick every day from preventable diseases such as diarrhea, gastroenteritis, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, eczema and more. You must have had, seen or have heard about a child with severe eczema, a severe respiratory illness, etc? Being breastfeed or having been breastfed gives children a strong protection against illnesses. I do not mean they will never get sick, but that they will be sick less often and the illnesses will be less severe. In many cases, they can avoid the illness altogether.

Promotion and prevention are very important mandates of the Public Health Department (PHD) of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay (CBHSSJB). Healthy living habits promotion and disease prevention gears the population towards Myupimaatisiiun (global health). Groups of all ages profit from the work of the professionals in the PHD. Breastfeeding, along with the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Intiative, are my main concerns. Breastfeeding is under the wing of the PHD, as it is a proven way to prevent illnesses and its promotion as well as its protection needs to be addressed in Eeyou Itschee. Breastfeeding is a Cree tradition, but rates of mothers breastfeeding their babies are currently lowering. We need to find new ways to remind everyone of its importance and support the families that wish to practice this important life saving Cree tradition.

As the Public Health Program Officer in charge of promoting and protecting breastfeeding, I try to find new and creative ways to reach the population. Social media is very popular among Crees of all ages. I even saw some Elders receiving cellular phones or tablets for Christmas . This Blog, Creebreastfeeding, is a good promotional tool and is part of my operational planning. It kills two birds with one stone: it promotes breastfeeding and gives out important information as well. I also like to use Facebook, and has a Facebook page which directs the reader to evidence-based information and “In the news” type of posts.

Facebook is also popular among the health care workers on our territory. Health care workers need to abide by their work ethics even if they think they are only using Facebook for their personal use. For example, everyone knows that I am the writer behind, and it would violate my profession’s Ethics Code to promote anything unhealthy on my personal Facebook page. It would not be correct for me to be posting images of artificial milk nor trying to offer it, free or at a low cost, from a Buy, Sell, Trade Facebook page. In social media, the line between the individual and the professional is absent! We are what we do and in a very small village or community, this becomes even more evident. We are role models to everyone out there!

As a woman and a mother, I have many New Year wishes tied in with my family life, but as a professional my wishes are simple and tied in with the very essence of my job for the CBHSSJB’s Public Health Department’s mandates. I wish for health care workers and families to encourage and support women to exclusively breastfeed their babies until they are 6 months old and to encourage and protect this important relationship until the child is 2 years old and beyond.

Happy New Year everyone! I do hope my wish comes true 🙂


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