The National Department of Health developed a training course to capacitate health professionals, including doctors, nurses, dieticians, and nutritionists, to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. The Department of Nutrition in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Venda (UNIVEN), in collaboration with the Department of Health (William Eddie and Thohoyandou Health Centres), held a transformative four-day Lactation Management workshop from the 12 to 15 March 2024 for the final-year Bachelor of Science in Nutrition students. This training is in preparation for Work Integrated Learning (WIL) for final-year Nutrition students in healthcare facilities from 08 April to 04 October 2024. The workshop was meticulously crafted to empower students with the necessary skills and knowledge to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. It served as a vital platform for nurturing the capacities of student nutritionists, fostering their ability to assist mothers in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding from birth up to two years and beyond.
Through the comprehensive modules of the course, students delved into crucial aspects of lactation management, ranging from lactation physiology to practical strategies for effective breastfeeding support. The course enabled students to grasp and apply theoretical concepts during their WIL in Community Healthcare Centres, ensuring a holistic learning experience. Moreover, this initiative was instrumental in bolstering the efforts towards achieving Mother-Baby Friendly Initiative status in
healthcare facilities and communities. The Lactation Management Coordinator, Dr Cloupas Mahopo indicated that “by equipping students with the requisite skills, we are fostering environments conducive to mothers’ and infants’ optimal health and well-being.”

In her highly spirited welcome remarks, the Interim HoD of Nutrition Department, Dr Tshifhiwa Mandiwana passionately emphasised the pivotal role of student engagement in their educational journey. She fervently urged students to actively participate in the training session, reminding them that it had been tailored specifically for their benefit. She also extended a hearty welcome, expressing gratitude towards the organisers and representatives from the Department of Health Vhembe District for their invaluable contributions to the students’ training experience.
The students were guided on aspects including health challenges, the global and national context of breastfeeding, policies and strategies aimed to protect, promote, and support exclusive and continued breastfeeding. In addition, topics such as the nutritional composition of breastmilk and its value in the infants’ growth and development, key principles for sustaining successful breastfeeding for at least two years of life and/or beyond, correct techniques for expressing and storing breastmilk, physical challenges that could hinder infants from being breastfed, communication skills for empowering healthcare professionals to facilitate successful breastfeeding and assisting mothers in stopping breastfeeding were discussed. Issues such as myths (cultural beliefs) impacting breastfeeding practices were among the topics covered.


On behalf of the Department of Nutrition, Dr Cloupas Mahopo, the Lactation Management Coordinator, extended sincere gratitude to the Department of Health, Vhembe District representatives for their precious collaboration and unwavering support in orchestrating this workshop, which has undoubtedly been a resounding success and profoundly enriching experience for our students. Their steadfast dedication to enhancing maternal and child health outcomes is commendable and serves as a beacon of inspiration for all of us.
Below are pictures of the facilitators from the Department of Nutrition (UNIVEN) and Department of Health (Vhembe District).

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 22 March 2024

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