On the 4th August, 2021, Times of Zambia published a story that claimed that the Government of the Republic of Zambia stated that it is safe for breastfeeding mothers infected with COVID-19 to breastfeed their babies. The publication stated that the Government, through the Ministry of Health, is encouraging mothers who test positive to COVID-19 to continue breast feeding their babies as long as preventive measures such as masking up by the infected mother as well as hand hygiene are followed to minimise transmission to the baby. The article reported that Dr. Malama said this during the commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week that falls from the 1st to 7th August, under the theme “Protect breastfeeding, a shared responsibility.” Dr. Malama, in the report noted that this years theme was timely as latest statistics from the Zambia Demographic Health Survey of 2018 showed a drop in the rate of breastfeeding in the country from 73 per cent in 2014 to 70 per cent in 2018. Dr. Malama noted that the objectives of the World Breastfeeding Week were to inform, anchor, engage and galvanize effects around prtecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding.
The Fact Checking process has determined as true the claims by the Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kennedy Malama, that it is safe for breastfeeding mothers infected with COVID-19 to breast feed their babies. Aside the prescribed precautions established by the Ministry of Health, such as masking up as well as hand hygiene during breast feeding, the iVerify Fact checking team further investigated various credible health research institutions to reinenforce the claim through various reports investigated to establish as true, that infected mothers can safely breast feed their babies as Coronavirus has not been found in breast milk. According to a 2020 scientific Brief by the World Health Organization (WHO), titled ‘Breastfeeding and COVID-19,’ a total of 46 mother-infant dyads had breastmilk samples tested from COVID-19 positive mothers. Breastmilk samples from 43 mothers were negative for the COVID-19 virus, while samples from 3 mothers tested positive for viral particles by RT-PCR. Among the 3 infants whose mothers’ breastmilk tested positive for virual RNA particles, not live virus, one infant tested positive for COVID-19 but infant feeding practices were not reported, a scientific trend that shows that breastmilk from a COVID-19 positive mother is safe as no COVID-19 has been detected. Another reference report investigated from the United Nations Children’s Emergence Fund (UNICEF) show that so far, the COVID-19 virus has not been found in breast milk and all mothers are advised to continue breastfeeding, while practicing good hygiene during feeding, which include Wear a mask during feeding,Wash hands with soap before and after touching the baby, Wipe and disinfect surfaces regularly. Reference made to another report investigated from the Centers for Disease Control and Preevention (CDC) shows that current evidence suggests that breast milk is not likely to spread the virus to the baby and that it is safe for infected mothers to brreastfeed as long as preventive measures are put in place.