August 01, 2017
2 min read

WHO, UNICEF stress seven ways to invest in breast-feeding initiatives

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August 1 marks the first day of World Breast-Feeding Week, led by the recently formed Global Breastfeeding Collective.

The collective, a partnership of 20 international agencies and nongovernmental organizations directed by WHO and UNICEF, strives to bring increased awareness to the benefits of breast-feeding as well as the necessary investments to be made to improve global breast-feeding rates.

“A key message that the Global Breastfeeding Collective wants to convey is that breast-feeding isn’t just one woman’s job,” France Begin, PhD, senior advisor for Infant and Young Child Nutrition at UNICEF, said. “There are millions of women out there who want to breast-feed but don’t have the support they need to do so. As a result of those inadequate breast-feeding practices, we have 820,000 children who die annually, and millions more are susceptible to avoidable illnesses and learning difficulties later in life.”

The organization is calling for $5.7 billion — or $4.70 per newborn — in funding over the next decade to improve global exclusive breast-feeding rates, which currently fall at 40%, according to Lucy Sullivan, MBA, executive director of 1,000 Days, an organization that works toward improving nutrition between pregnancy and infanthood for mothers and their children.

“We know from our research that the staggering loss of life and loss of a country’s economic potential is caused by failure to properly support mothers to breast-feed,” Sullivan said. “It’s in a country’s economic self-interest to start investing in programs and policies that enable women to breast-feed and enable every child to get the strongest start to life.”

To do this, the Global Breastfeeding Collective has released a score card in which the promotion and investment of exclusive breast-feeding can be promoted across all low-, middle- and high-income countries. To celebrate World Breast-Feeding Week, Infectious Diseases in Children presents the seven ways in which breast-feeding can be promoted across the globe, as well as the latest news coverage regarding breastfeeding research.

1. Increase finding for breast-feeding from birth to 2 years

2. Fully implement marketing codes for breast milk substitutes

3. Enact family leave and workplace policies

4. Improve care of breast-feeding mothers in maternity facilities and hospitals

5. Improve access to breast-feeding counseling for mothers and families

6. Strengthen links between health facilities and communities to support breast-feeding

7. Track the progress of policies, programs and rates of breast-feeding by country

— by Katherine Bortz