Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Breastfeeding Gets Into Worldwide Development Agenda

By James Achanyi-Fontem, Email: camlink99@gmail.com
The World Breastfeeding Conference 2012 theme, “ Babies Need Mom Made Not Man Made” was echoed in over 100 presentations in three busy working days by facilitators and over 800 participants from 84 countries. This articles points out some of the strong statements by presenters. Dr. Arun Gupta highlighted the advantages of breastmilk in a paper, saying that junk food cause girls to hit puberty at the age of 6 years, bananas may soon become a critical food sources for millions of people and replace potatoes as a staple diet due to climate change according to recent research. Healthy diet can prevent second heart attack because this has been seen as powerful as pills and healthy life is what mothers and their babies deserve. Breastfeeding can save 22% of new born babies, especially as the first 1.000 days shape the health life of the baby.
Prof. Anwar Fazal had presented the past icons of breastfeeding promotion and what they all left behind as a memorial legacy. Dr. Nicholas Alipui, the UNICEF Director of Programmes in New York presented a paper which revealed that breastfeeding is on the development agenda worldwide, as he highlighted the successes, challenges and way forward. Dr. Alipui said, what is hampering progress is the lack of a common agenda with a shared vision of change and the orphan issue is not grounded in a cohesive advocacy with the communities. The industries act as counter forces. The bottle neck at programme level is the under-estimation and inadequate recognition of impact, the absence of effective, comprehensive approaches at scale, interventions are not optimally implemented, slow and not tangible behaviour change, while HIV and infant feeding makes issues more complex and confusing.
Some of the opportunities are the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) action with focus on a promise renewed, quality of education/learning link to Nutrition, early Childhood Development, greater focus on gender equality and support to national movements for the expansion of health campaigns to involve community workers. UNICEF has produced a good number of IYCF tool and reviews to facilitate achievement of goals within communities and health facilities. Another strong intervention was made on how to enhance breastfeeding rates globally by Dr F. Branca, Director of Nutrition for health development department at the World Health Organisation head quarters.
It was made known that on the 26th May 2012 at the WHA, Member States committed to tackle global nutrition challenges. The six nutrition targets agreed on include reduction of childhood stunting by 40%, reduction of anemia in women of reproductive age by 50%, reduction of Low Birth Weight by 30%, 0% increase in childhood overweight, increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first 6 months up to 50% and reduction and maintaining childhood wasting to less than 5% The actions recommended include: ACTION 1: To create a supportive environment for the implementation of comprehensive food and nutrition policies ACTION 2: To include all required effective health interventions with an impact on nutrition in plans for scaling up ACTION 3: To stimulate the implementation of non health interventions with an impact on nutrition ACTION 4: To provide adequate human and financial resources for the implementation of health interventions with an impact on nutrition ACTION 5: To monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies and programmes The factors for successful breastfeeding promotion include: 1. implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes 2. Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) 3. Advocacy, training and education of health professionals 4. Community-based promotion and support 5. Maternity legislation and workplace support Participants at the World Breastfeeding Conference in New Delhi, India were reminded of the Innocenti Declaration and countries that have not already accomplished the following, should plan to: 1. a national BF coordinator and establish a multisectoral national BF committee. 2. Ensure that every facility providing maternity services fully practice all the “Ten steps to successful BF”. 3. Give effect to the principles and aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions (Code). 4. Enact imaginative legislation to protect the BF rights of working women. 5. Develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding. 6. Ensure that the health and other relevant sectors protect, promote and support EBF for six months and continued BF up to two years of age or beyond. 7. Promote timely, adequate, safe and appropriate complementary feeding with continued BF. 8. Provide guidance on feeding infants and young children in exceptionally difficult circumstances. 9. Consider new legislation or other measures to give effect to the principles and aim of the Code.

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