We need to become a breastfeeding-friendly society: Dr Motsepe

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) stands during the national anthem, flanked by his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe, before delivering his annual State of the Nation address to Parliament in Cape Town on June 20, 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - First Lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe says it is important to develop local communities that support mothers who breastfeed.

Dr Motsepe was speaking at the Kalafong Hospital in Gauteng on Thursday in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2019.

"We need to become a breastfeeding-friendly society and nation," she said. “If South Africa is to reach the 2025 UN target of an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 50 percent for the first six months of an infant’s life, we need to empower and support women who breastfeed in our communities."

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The event was hosted by several organisations including the South African Breastmilk Reserve, which aims to reach a target of 100 new breast milk donors.

SABR executive Stasha Jordan says donated breast milk is valuable, especially to babies born prematurely.

"Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life is the single best way to fight infection and malnutrition," she said. "When mothers donate breastmilk, it is used to literally keep a baby alive, giving them the perfect nourishment, they require to grow strong and be healthy."