KwaZulu Natal University
In a major policy shift, mothers in South Africa are encouraged to exclusively breastfeed instead of using formula
South Africa has some of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in the world. Over a decade ago, to prevent the mother-to-child transmission of HIV during breastfeeding, the Government of South Africa rolled out a policy providing free infant formula for all HIV-positive mothers.
But infant formula is not equivalent to breastmilk; it does not contain all the essential nutrients or antibodies to protect children from diarrhoea, pneumonia or malnutrition – some of the top causes of death among children under age 5. And child deaths remain a critical problem in South Africa, which currently lags behind the Millennium Development Goal on reducing child mortality.