A survey by Anadolu Agency has observed that some Zimbabwean mothers are weaning their babies at very tender ages due to poverty.
One mother identified as Lindiwe Sayi, 32, said she weaned her baby when she was just three months old as the mother had to focus on her work as a vendor to earn a livelihood in Zimbabwe’s capital.
Her husband, 37-year-old Langton Muyeni, left the country last December, heading to neighbouring South Africa in search of greener pastures and has never been in touch with his wife since then.
Seized with the role of having to fend for her three children, including the infant, the single mom now has to work even harder.
In Zimbabwe, Sayi is just one of many women, who, hard-pressed to the core by the country’s mounting economic hardships, are forgoing exclusive breastfeeding. Sayi told Anadolu Agency:
I have to live. My children need school fees and food, and if I had allowed myself to stay and focus on breastfeeding my last-born child, the life would have been worse for us as a family today.
The globe has since 1992 annually between Aug. 1-7 commemorated World Breastfeeding Week, a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanize action on breastfeeding. Early weaning affects babies’ health negatively
Another Zimbabwean woman, Tracy Maunganidze, a mother of a four-month-old baby who is working as a till operator in a grocery store in Harare says she found it difficult to stick to the six months of exclusive breastfeeding, as she rather has to work to support her dependents, including her infant baby.
She said staying at home to focus on breastfeeding her baby, with nobody fending for the family, would mean malnutrition would pound all of them.
Some women stated that they wean their babies prematurely because they have to go to work to get money for bills.
Arnold Rukoko, a paediatrician in Harare, told Anadolu Agency that babies weaned before they could be breastfed exclusively for the six months have very weak immune systems.
According to UNICEF, only about 14% of Zimbabwean mothers breastfeed their babies up to the recommended two years, with the majority of them rushing to wean their babies below the stipulated cutoff point.
Last year, UNICEF and the World Health Organization, while marking World Breastfeeding Week, blamed the coronavirus for derailing the progress made in urging mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
As scores of Zimbabwean mothers quit breastfeeding due to economic hardships, UNICEF said mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, which have become the leading causes of death among women over the years.