By Olivia Nabaggala
3rd Aug 2022
A local food rights organization has filed a constitutional petition challenging the government’s inaction on regulating workplaces and breastfeeding.
Their petition highlights gaps in the legal regime affecting the ability of mothers to breastfeed their babies for the recommended six months of exclusive breast milk.
David Kabanda, the Executive Director Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT) told a news conference on Wednesday that their main concern is with Section 56 of the Employment Act, 2006 which provides for 60 working days as maternity leave.
He says the law is silent on the extra three months when the mother has gone back to work which he says is in contravention of the right to life, right to the highest attainable standard of health and the right to adequate food provided for in the constitution.
The petition comes amidst the commemoration of World Breastfeeding Week, a period in which the World Health Organization pointed out that global crises, supply chain shocks and insecurity are threatening the health and nutrition of millions of babies and children like never before and called on governments to allocate increased resources to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding policies and programmes, especially for the most vulnerable families living in emergency settings.
Breastfeeding, according to medical experts, offers a powerful line of defense against disease and all forms of child malnutrition, including child-wasting. Breastfeeding also acts as a baby’s first vaccine, protecting them from common childhood illnesses.
According to the Ministry of Health figures, only 66 per cent of mothers initiate breastfeeding in the first hour after birth and 35 per cent of these children are not breastfed exclusively for six months.