South Africa Ending Free Infant Formula, Encouraging Breastfeeding

Zoonar/Thinkstock(DURBAN, South Africa) -- South Africa’s high child mortality rates and low exclusive breastfeeding rates have prompted the nation to begin phasing out free infant formula for HIV-positive mothers.

At eight percent, South Africa has the lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in the world. Infant formula does not contain the food and nutrients needed to protect babies from infection, says the South African Health Department which ended the free formula program on Sunday.

The department is encouraging mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of a child’s life and HIV-positive mothers will receive antiretroviral drugs to reduce the chance of transmission from mother to child, reports UNICEF.

“We just needed to move ahead rather quickly and rapidly because of the issue of saving children’s lives,” said Leonore Spies from the Department of Health.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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