Religious leaders have recommended the construction of special rooms in various areas that will be used for free by mothers to breastfeed their babies as one of the strategies aimed at protecting, enhancing and promoting breastfeeding for the baby.

These include jobs, businesses, stands, houses of worship such as churches and mosques and all others that gather people for various social and development activities, including breastfeeding mothers.

They gave the advice in Mbeya at a one-day workshop of the leaders and traditional leaders involving the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, the Office of the Head of the Zanzibar Region and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week.

One of the leaders, Pastor Modest Pesha from the Christian Community of Tanzania (CCT) said; "Some infants have been losing their basic right to breastmilk alone for six months because of their mothers being in an environment that can make them shy or unable to breastfeed."

He said it was time for the country's child policy and legislation to be made improvements that would make it a basic right for a child to have breast milk alone for six months.

"The construction of special breastfeeding facilities in these areas will help to cover our mothers and will enable their children to get their right to breastfeed without concern in an environment where the mother is outside her home with other activities including income," she said.

The Health Coordinator of the Supreme Council of Muslims of Tanzania (BAKWATA), Dr Saleh Abdalah said the issue of nutrition and breastfeeding is mentioned in the holy book of the religion and urged the government to work on the proposal while asking employers in the public and private sector to develop policies that will enable a mother to breastfeed her child for the entire time required.

The Sheikh of the Zanzibar Urban Salum Suleiman stressed the issue of breastfeeding, saying that after six months of the baby breastfeeding alone, she should continue breastfeeding for up to two years.

"The issue of nutrition and breastfeeding in the region is made to a minimum, our Muslim request to adhere to the scriptures as they want in these matters will enable the society to be healthier and better," he said.

For her part, Rev. Love Sanga of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (KKKT) in the Diocese of Morogoro said breastfeeding has continued to be a major challenge for Tanzanian society because of the increase in women being squeezed out of public and private sector work.

"We recommend there should be breastfeeding in the workplace, plus the proposal is very important for employers to have policies that will make it successful," she said.

The Chairman of the Muslim Women's Association (JUWAKITA) in Zanzibar, Semeni Ngenzi criticized modern mothers, saying their lifestyle contributes to denying their children the right to breastfeed as professionally advised.

"Whereas modern mothers don't stretch their babies based on the recommended time frame for what they claim they don't want their breasts to fall off, this is not fair to the health of the baby," she said.

FAO Nutrition Officer Stella Kimambo spoke of the importance of the scaffolding and urged the private sector as in the public sector to have legal guidelines that would provide reproductive rights for mothers, including maternity leave.

"Our call also for unemployed mothers or rural farmers - fathers to fulfil their responsibilities by ensuring they provide them with a healthy diet but also reducing their responsibilities at home and on the farm," he said.

Chief Agriculture Officer and Nutrition Coordinator of the Ministry of Agriculture, Margaret Natai, said the agricultural sector plays a key role in enabling a mother to get a healthy diet that will help her provide enough and nutritious milk for her baby.

"If Tanzanians are educated properly, we will greatly reduce the problem of nutrition and stunting because in the country the problem is not foods, the food is there, the challenge is how the foods are consumed," he said.

The Nutrition Officer of the Zanzibar Region, Anna Patrick, said while national statistics show the average breastfeeding rate alone is 64 percent, the Zanzibar region has surpassed that level at 66 percent.

Despite continued success in breastfeeding, Patrick said the Zanzibar region is the leading country with 56.9% of child stunting.

"The influx of Igra is increasing. In collaboration with our various stakeholders we are currently in the process of finding the causes, the research will give us a real picture so that we can continue to take action to work with them," he said.

Ministry of Health Nutrition Officer Elieth Rumzuru spoke about the concept of the Breastfeeding Week which takes place on August 1 to 7 of every year, saying it provides the community with an opportunity to learn about the importance of breastfeeding to the baby.

She said breast milk is a complete and balanced source of nutrition for children, and provide them with all the necessary nutrients, antibodies, and enzymes for optimal growth and growth.

"They contain essential proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that promote a healthy immune system, brain development, and overall child well-being," he said.

He said if religious leaders get accurate information about the importance of breastfeeding, they will accurately convey the message and the consequences could be significant given how reliable they are in society.

"The first six months a baby should only breastfeed. And then the baby will continue to breastfeed for up to two years while being given a nutritious supplemental meal," he said.

The end.