Breastfeeding gives the best possible start in life to the baby and provides health, nutritional and other benefits to the child and the mother. 1-7th August is marked as World Breastfeeding Week.

World Health Organisation and UNICEF are calling in governments to:

  • Invest to ensure that skilled breastfeeding counseling is available to every woman and to have enhanced implementation of the policies and services.
  • Train the health care workers to deliver breastfeeding counseling.
  • Ensure that breastfeeding counseling is available like routine health and nutrition services.
  • Partner with associations and build a strong collaborative system for breastfeeding counseling.
  • Protect the workers of healthcare from being influenced by the baby food industry.

Key facts:

  • Every infant and child has the right to good nutrition according to the “Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
  • Undernutrition is associated with 45% of child deaths.
  • Globally in 2020, 149 million children under five were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 45 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.9 million were overweight or obese.
  • About 44% of infants 0–6 months old are exclusively breastfed.
  • Few children receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods; in many countries, less than a fourth of infants 6–23 months of age meet the criteria of dietary diversity and feeding frequency that are appropriate for their age.
  • Over 820 000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under five years if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed. Breastfeeding improves IQ, school attendance and is associated with higher income in adult life. 
  • Improving child development and reducing health costs through breastfeeding 

results in economic gains for individual families as well as at the national level.

Undernutrition is estimated to be associated with 2.7 million child deaths annually, or 45% of all child deaths. Infant and young child feeding is a key area to improve child survival and promote healthy growth and development. The first two years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall.

Optimal breastfeeding is so critical that it could save the lives of over 820 000 children under the age of 5 years each year.

We are aware that breastfeeding can provide a great start to the baby’s life and has a lot of nutritional benefits for the baby. Hence it is essential to promote breastfeeding and to also provide proper counseling to the mothers and the family members. The Covid-19 pandemic posed more challenges to breastfeeding mothers. Hence, it has become more imperative to spread awareness pertaining to the true facts and also to provide adequate counseling to the mothers. 

The World Health Organization has introduced ten steps to successful breastfeeding. They are available here.

For more information click here and here.

 Mahak Rathee 

Global Representative (India) 

Roya Institute of Global Justice