The international community is celebrating World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) on Monday August 1st. An opportunity for the United Nations, through WHO and UNICEF, to recall the advantages of breast milk for children and the benefits for breastfeeding women. This year’s celebration comes at a time of global crisis when governments are being called upon to mobilise more resources for breastfeeding.
From 1st to 7th August 2022, the world commemorates International Breastfeeding Day, also known as World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). The theme of the 2022 edition is ” Go for breastfeeding! Educate, promote, support”. A strong signal to leaders to establish a real policy to mobilise resources for breastfeeding in the current global crisis.“As global crises continue to threaten the health and nutrition of millions of infants and children, breastfeeding, which gives them the best possible start in life, is more vital than ever”UNICEF and WHO said on Monday, on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week.
Breast milk, a safe food.
Breast milk is a safe, nutritious and accessible food for infants and young children. It offers powerful protection against disease and all forms of malnutrition in children, including wasting. Breast milk is also the first vaccine for infants. It protects them from common childhood diseases.
The health benefits of breastfeeding for the mother.
The practice of breastfeeding by women considerably reduces the number of calories in the body and allows them to enjoy a good physical condition. Breastfeeding facilitates the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and can reduce uterine bleeding after childbirth. Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer and the risk of osteoporosis.
Yet because of the emotional stress, lack of space and privacy, and poor sanitation faced by mothers, many children are deprived of the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding, report WHO and UNICEF.
Less than half of newborns are breastfed in their first hour of life.
Less than half of newborns are breastfed in their first hour of life, putting them at greater risk of illness and death. And only 44% of infants are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, short of the World Health Assembly target of 50% by 2025.
Strategies set up to reach the 50% target by 2025.
The major challenges in promoting breastfeeding are enormous and the global economic crisis may dampen hopes. In response, WHO and UNICEF are urging governments, donors, civil society and the private sector to intensify action in four main areas.
- Prioritise investment in policies and programmes that support breastfeeding, particularly in fragile and food insecure contexts;
- Equip health workers and nutrition professionals working in facilities and communities with the skills to provide quality counselling and practical support to mothers for successful breastfeeding;
- Protect caregivers and health professionals from unscrupulous marketing influence by the infant formula industry by adopting and fully implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, including in humanitarian crisis situations;
- Implement family-friendly policies that allow mothers the time, space and support they need to breastfeed.