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As a corollary to the ‘Julie mango’ double entendre song, here’s a true story.

Caribbean Nurse reprimanding young Guyanese father: (looking at emaciated undernourished baby of new young mother). “What y’all feedin’ her? Let she give she baby she milk.”

Young Guyanese Father to Nurse (very gruffly): “I man son don’t drink no milk. I man son drink co-co-nut milk!”

At the end of the story, with the whole maternal ward bursting into abuses and laughter alternatively, the man returned home with his ego bruised and gave his wife some licks. But that’s another story for another day on another issue.

Now, despite all of this, there is something Guyana ought to be proud of; in 2010, the Health minister announced that Guyana surpassed the global average of exclusive breastfeeding by 7 %. The global average being 35%, Guyana stands at a much higher 43%.

Although Guyana has three baby-friendly hospitals – West Demerara Regional, Suddie and Wismar, the vast majority are not, including GPHC (Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation), which is the lead hospital in the country.

Reasons cited for non-achievement of 100% in exclusive breast feeding practices in Guyana are the lack of knowledgeable staff as well as the lack of awareness on part of new mothers or young parents in general, on the benefits of breastfeeding.

The minister reiterated that exclusive breastfeeding increases immunity of the child  and expressed back in 2010 that  “The things that make it possible do not cost any money. We do not have to find money to give the baby the breast, it is a free thing that God gave us, and we should use it.” This made me smile. Ah, well, political shenanigans.

There had also been a move back in 2009 to regulate anti-breastfeeding advertisements in the media. Many of companies marketing breast milk substitutes had been allowed to advertise freely and therefore influenced family decisions. The minister admitted that more effort had been put into R & D rather than the employment of social strategies to influence people’s behaviour regarding breastfeeding. In this regard, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were working on an international code to be developed which would regulate the practice of the advertisements of the products. Now it’s 2012, I am still scouring the media for news of where Guyana stands on the strategies employed for increasing awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding.

So, one social strategy I’d suggest is popularizing Byron lee’s song in all of the maternity wards in Guyana. It would be a much more relish worthy and meaningful use of the song. Hell! It even mentions not wanting oranges and grapes. What more da ya need for the idea to stick?!!