Nestlé is promoting and supporting breastfeeding as
part of its commitment to improve maternal and infant nutrition in Central and
This year, the company is scaling up its activities
about the importance of breastfeeding by proactively engaging with healthcare
professionals and employees in the region, and backing World Breastfeeding Week from August 1-7.
Nestlé strongly believes that breast milk is the ideal
food for newborns and infants and has created a number of initiatives to raise
awareness on the importance of right nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life.
In Central and West Africa, low exclusive breastfeeding rates, poor feeding practices, and the use of inappropriate complementary
foods in the first two years of life are far too common and can have an adverse
effect on the development of children.
To help address these problems, Nestlé is focusing its
activities and nutrition education on healthcare professionals (HCPs) as part
of its commitment to implement nutrition education
programmes in order to promote good nutrition practices. These activities are carried out in collaboration with Ministries of
Health and professional associations.
This commitment is one of the company’s 35 pledges,
which it aims to fulfil by 2020 or earlier, outlined in the Nestlé in Society report ‘Creating Shared Value
and meeting our commitments 2013’.
The company is engaging with doctors, midwives,
nurses, scientists and nutrition communities to extend its messages to the
It is doing this through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA), which is part of the independent non-profit organisation the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI), the world’s largest private publisher of nutritional
The NNI shares leading science-based information and
education with healthcare professionals, scientists, nutrition communities and
stakeholders in an interactive way.
The NNIA organises scientific symposia
with leading international paediatricians and experts to share experiences and
transfer skills to local HCPs.
It recently held a symposium to promote maternal
nutrition in Cameroon, and presented a
paper to stress the need for optimal
nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life at a conference in Ghana.
Three years ago, the institute also launched its
training programme, the ‘CWAR Advanced Nutrition Workshop’ (CANUP), on maternal
and paediatric nutrition for healthcare professionals in Central and West
Africa. More than 300 HCPs have already been trained since 2011.
The NNIA also runs a five-day postgraduate training
course ‘ESPGHAN goes to Africa’ on gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition,
supported by the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology
and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).
It will act as a centre of competency in the region to
train highly skilled healthcare professionals.
A total of 26 participants from 11 countries have
already completed the course this year.
Importance of breastfeeding
Nestlé is also developing breastfeeding education
material in collaboration with Ministries of Health, professional associations
and non-governmental organisations to teach mothers the importance of
breastfeeding and good nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life through HCPs.
The company has furthermore invested in a new
breastfeeding room at Ola During Hospital in Sierra Leone, where mothers are
being taught how to breastfeed by healthcare experts.
The new facility, supported by the Ministry of Health,
is located at the only teaching hospital in the country.
To address the issue of inadequate complementary foods
for infants in Central and West Africa, Nestlé is continuously innovating its
offerings of fortified, nutritious complementary food products to help improve
the nutritional status of infants and young children.
The company recently launched Cerelac Millet infant cereal fortified with essential
micronutrients and probiotic Bifidus BL in Ghana, Senegal, Burkina,
Mali and Côte d’Ivoire, and aims to roll it out to Nigeria later this year.
Supporting breastfeeding among employees
Within the company, Nestlé is proactively educating,
engaging and supporting its employees in Central and West Africa on the
importance of breastfeeding.
It is offering female employees the opportunity to
take maternity leave in line with national
legislation, plus additional weeks on top of this.
The company is similarly supporting
fathers, offering them paternity leave according to standard national legislation,
and extra days off.
Nestlé also provides flexible working
time and breaks to allow mothers to continue breastfeeding when they return to
A number of breastfeeding rooms at some of the
company’s offices in the region are already in use.
During this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, Nestlé is
specifically engaging with its male employees to promote its internal campaign
on how fathers can support breastfeeding.
Activities include interactive email campaigns,
prize-winning competitions and quizzes, external speaker presentations and
Nestlé maternal and
Nestlé Nutrition Institute
Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa