Friday, 4 August 2017

UNICEF, WHO Charge Countries to increase funding for Breastfeeding

…Nigeria not among 23 countries that have achieved exclusive breastfeeding rates 
Rebecca Ejifoma
For countries to achieve many Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3 and 4, the Global Breastfeeding Collective, co-led by the United Nations Children Fund and World Health Organisation, is calling on countries to increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years; fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World.

This is as the organisations noted that breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals. It improves nutrition (SDG2), prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases (SDG3), and supports cognitive development and education (SDG4). Breastfeeding is also an enabler to ending poverty, promoting economic growth and reducing inequalities.

According to the Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, "Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life. "Breastmilk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive."

Observed every August 1 through seven with the theme for this year, 'Sustain Breastfeeding Together', the DG disclosed that the investment case shows that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies — China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria — the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.

"Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding promotion; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million," Ghebreyesus said.

Therefore, the Global Breastfeeding Collective is calling on countries to: increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years; fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions through strong legal measures that are enforced and independently monitored by organisations free from conflicts of interest.

Others are: Enact paid family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies, building on the International Labour Organisation’s maternity protection guidelines as a minimum requirement, including provisions for the informal sector; implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breastmilk for sick and vulnerable newborns; improve access to skilled breastfeeding counselling as part of comprehensive breastfeeding policies and programmes in health facilities.

It further charges countries to strengthen links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding and strengthen monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes, and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets.

The global breastfeeding scorecard
The Scorecard compiles data from countries all over the world on the status of seven priorities set by the Global Breastfeeding Collective to increase the rate of breastfeeding.

Nigeria yet to achieve exclusive breastfeeding rates
The 23 countries that have achieved exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent are: Bolivia, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Micronesia, Federated States of Nauru, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, São Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

Co-led by UNICEF and WHO, the Global Breastfeeding Collective’s mission is to rally political, legal, financial, and public support for breastfeeding, which will benefit mothers, children, and society.

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