Gov’t still pushing for 6 months maternity leave
All Guyanese are being urged to make breastfeeding a priority as breastfeeding is the key to a sustainable development. This comes as Guyana observes National Breastfeeding week from September 18 to 24, under the banner: “Breastfeeding: A key to sustainable development.”
The week’s activities opened with a symposium at the National Cultural Centre which included several presentations on the importance of breastfeeding and the symbolic unveiling of 25*12 foot breastfeeding billboard which will be erected within this month at the football field, east of the Ministry of Public Health.
The most recent UN survey on the state of the world’s children had recorded that just about 23 percent of babies born in Guyana are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
The goal is now to increase this number to 50 percent by 2025 and Government with support from international partners, it is confident that this can be attained.
Coupled with breastfeeding there is the issue of maternity leave and paternity leave.
In Guyana, a period of three months is provided for mothers but it is now being proposed by the Ministries of Public Health and Social Protection that this be increased to six months with fathers also being given time off to support their partners.
However, this is not without concern and as Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) representative, Dr. Adu Krow says, these changes will have financial implications that have to be looked into.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Social Protection is continuing to work in favour of this change until a final decision can be made. The move has been deemed by Acting Assistant chief labour officer, Karen Van Sluytman-Corbin as one that is in the best interest of the government.
And Minister of Public Health George Norton is hopeful that once the initial resistance passes to the proposal that it could soon become part of Guyana’s legislation. But for now he is calling on all Guyanese to support breastfeeding at all levels of society.