Three charts to understand breastfeeding in DRC

KEY FIGURES – Breastfeeding a crucial issue in the acceleration framework for reducing maternal and under-5 child mortality rates. What links and networks exist between breastfeeding, level of education and socio-economic standards ?

breastfeeding in DRC

This analysis is a sequel to an article that was published in August 2014 on breastfeeding on the basis of the preliminary results of the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DHS 2013-2014). In the present document, we will outline key figures based on the final report resulting from the said Survey all the while drawing historical comparisons with statistics from 2007 and 2010. Furthermore, the analysis will demonstrate whether the mother’s level of education or the socio-economic standards of households can exert an influence on breastfeeding in DRC.

Evolution of breastfeeding in DRC

Children who are breastfed as from within an hour of being born, who then continue to be exclusively breastfed up until six months and then complementarily up until 24 months, show signs of harmonious development by resisting a majority of childhood illnesses.

At present, among children under 6 months old, approximately 1 out of 2 children is exclusively breastfed. It is advised to breastfeed new-borns as from their birth. When we look at early breastfeeding or breastfeeding within one hour of the child being born, exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months and the continuation of breastfeeding until the child turns 2, we have observed a slight improvement compared to 2007.

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Breastfeeding and mother’s level of education

The mother’s level of education is one of the factors that can influence her behaviour, positively or negatively toward the child. The figures relating to breastfeeding do not, however, reveal any influence in terms of the mother’s level of education (see Graph 2), with an exception for children who are both breastfed and fed other food (1) on the basis of the minimal daily meal frequency.

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According to these results, in DRC, the level of education does indeed seem to influence the child’s feeding through the introduction of various groups of foods and through the meal frequency of breastfed children aged 6-23 months.

Breastfeeding and socio-economic standards in households

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From 2013-2014, 52% of children from the poorest portion of society were breastfed early, against 50% of children from the richest portion of society.

The information on the quintiles (Graph 3) and on the level of education (Graph 2) show that breastfeeding isn’t influenced by the socio-economic standards of households, nor by the mother’s level of education. However, 6% of children in the lowest quintile were continually breastfed while receiving adequate food compliments compared to 17% of children from the highest quintile.

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Promoting breastfeeding: a duty for everyone

Just like all the parents whose wish it is to see their children grow up far away from the risk of infant and child mortality and in the context of World Breastfeeding Week, we are invited to encourage the promotion of early breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding and the continuation of breastfeeding up until the child’s second birthday.

The aim of these efforts is to accelerate the fulfilment of Millennium Development Goal N°4, namely, the reduction of maternal and child mortality rates in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Demographic and Health Survey

All datas come from the Demographic and Health Survey of 2013/2014 (in french only). The Survey was conducted by the Ministry of Planning and Monitoring of the Revolution of Modernity along with the Ministry of Public Health with support from partners like UNICEF, USAIDPEPFAR, the British cooperation, the World Bank Banque Mondiale, the Global FundUNFPA and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Infographics created by Natalia Rodriguez

Photo: UNICEF DRC 2013 Diana Mrazikova

Translated from French by Eleanor Hac

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Flavien Mulumba

Flavien Mulumba est Officier de Monitoring et Evaluation pour le bureau de l'UNICEF à Kinshasa. Il croit fermement qu’investir dans les enfants en allouant plus de ressources pour favoriser leurs droits, c’est construire le monde de demain.

Flavien Mulumba has worked is a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the UNICEF office in Kinshasa. He believes firmly that investing in children's futures and allocating resources to protect their rights is creating a better world for tomorrow.

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