World Breastfeeding Week, observed from August 1 to 7, is celebrated every year to encourage and support breastfeeding in an effort to improve the health of babies around the world. The week aims to spread awareness about the importance of breastfeeding for the mother and the child.
According to a new UNICEF and WHO report an estimated 78 million babies — or three out of five — worldwide are not breastfed within the first hour of birth which exposes them at higher risk of death and diseases and reduce their chances of meeting physical and mental growth standards.
To promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.
Breastfeeding is an important efficient and cost-effective intervention promoting child survival and health.
Breastfeeding within an hour of birth could prevent 20% of the newborn deaths.
Infants who are not breastfed are 15 times more likely to die from pneumonia and 11 times more likely to die from diarrhea than children who are exclusively breastfed, which are two leading causes of death in children under five years of age.
In addition, children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for diabetes, obesity, allergies, asthma, childhood leukemia, sudden infant death syndrome etc. Apart from mortality and morbidity benefits, breastfeeding also has a tremendous impact on improved IQ.
To intensify the efforts further for the promotion of breastfeeding, the Health Ministry has initiated a nationwide programme called “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to bring undiluted focus on the promotion of breastfeeding and provision of services towards supporting breastfeeding, along with ongoing efforts of routine health systems.
The key components of the MAA programme are awareness generation, promotion of breastfeeding & interpersonal counseling at the community level, skilled support for breastfeeding at delivery points and monitoring and Award/ recognition of health facility.
Under this programme, ASHA has been incentivized for reaching out to pregnant and lactating mothers and provide information on benefits and techniques of successful breastfeeding during interpersonal communication. ANMs at all sub-centres and health personnel at all delivery points are being trained for providing skilled support to mothers referred with issues related to breastfeeding.
Under NHM, funding support has been recommended for all States and UTs for successful implementation of the MAA programme.
UNICEF report on early initiation of breastfeeding across the world:
A new report released by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has ranked Sri Lanka at the top of the list of countries with early initiation of breastfeeding.
India ranks 56th among the 76 countries that were analyzed.
Countries like Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Bhutan, and Uruguay have fared much better than India.
Azerbaijan, Pakistan, and Montenegro are at the bottom.
Only two in five newborns are breastfed within the first hour of life across the world.
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) is a global network of individuals and organizations concerned with the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding worldwide based on the Innocenti Declarations, the Ten Links for Nurturing the Future and the WHO/UNICEF Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding.
WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).