Bandar Seri Begawan - Elaborating on the question of rising prices of milk powder for infants enquired by Yang Berhormat Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah bte Hj Sulaiman with regard to less affluent families, the Minister of Health, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Adanan bin Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Mohammad Yusof responded that the Ministry of Health has always advocated the use of breast milk for this purpose and discourages mothers from feeding their infants with milk powder.
Scientific research has proven the premium qualities and high nutritional value of breast milk for optimal development of the physical, mental and emotional state of the infant, with added values of it being clean, safe and free from pollutants.
It also enhances the bond between mother and child, and breastfeeding will not place a burden on finances, he added.
The minister stressed that if the majority of mothers in the Sultanate adhered to this recommendation, than the issue of rising prices of milk powder would not have surfaced. For its part, the Ministry of Health recommends breastfeeding an infant for the first six months, as well as continuing the practice until the infant is two years of age with additional supplements.
In an effort to create awareness and convey the message of the benefits of breastfeeding amongst mothers in Brunei, the Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Taskforce was established, the minister said.
In her retort, Yang Berhormat Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah said that it is so easy for people to live with the perception that every mother has the ability to breastfeed their children - which is less than accurate - where some mothers are incapable of providing the proper nutrients an infant requires solely through breast milk due to the mother herself living life on a poor diet due to financial difficulties.
On a separate topic, YB Datin Paduka Hjh Salbiah brought up the issue of medical social workers, where the minister explained that the Medical Welfare Section has existed for years and plays primary roles in helping patients and their families in welfare-related matters, which can contribute to additional health risk factors; and providing assistance to patients and their families following health examinations that highlight issues such as malnutrition and stunting.
The minister further explained that people in this bracket will be scrutinised meticulously to determine if they qualify for assistance under the Medical Welfare Section following approval by a medical social worker.
Upon qualification, recipients can get support through the Health Assistance Welfare Fund under the ministry. He added that the source of these funds are from non-government contributors.
In conclusion, the minister made assurances that the Medical Welfare Section will provide the necessary references to government agencies and non-government organisations should the need arise.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin