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World Breastfeeding Week: Survival, Health, and Well-Being

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The 2016 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development. Join International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) and World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in observing WBW 1-7 August 2016. To find out more about the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and available #WBW2016 resources, read this Lactation Matters post.

At the World Breastfeeding Week website, WABA explains how breastfeeding is linked to each of the SDGs along four thematic areas. Throughout the week, ILCA will highlight each of these themes to help you better understand the SDGs and learn how to connect your critical local efforts to these larger international goals.

WBW Theme #2: Survival, Health, and Well-Being

Breastfeeding plays an important role in reducing poverty (SDG 1); promoting the general health and well-being of families (SDG 3); ensuring quality education and lifelong learning (SDG 4); eliminating disparities in and among countries (SDG 10); and developing safe, sustainable communities (SDG 11).

Envision a child born in a poor urban area. Her family considers breastfeeding a natural and integral part of her care. Their healthcare provider is trained to provide breastfeeding support. With a healthy baby at home, her mother is able to work. The child is successful in school, in part, because breastmilk has helped her develop well, grow, and remain healthy. The contribution of breastfeeding to the health of both mother and child can help this family rise out of poverty and into a better future.

Breastfeeding provides the foundation for lifelong health and well-being. Children and mothers who do not breastfeed are at greater risk for many conditions including acute and chronic illness for children, and breast and ovarian cancer for mothers. 823,000 children die annually due to sub-optimal infant feeding practices. 20,000 deaths due to breast cancer could be averted if  mothers breastfed optimally.

The financial cost of a program to implement the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in 214 countries is estimated at $130 per live birth. This investment in breastfeeding support is likely to pay off financially in as little as one or two years, and pay off academically immediately. (On average, babies who are breastfed have a 2.6 point higher intelligence quotient than non-breastfed babies.)

What does breastfeeding look like in YOUR community? How many facilities are Baby-Friendly?

  • Talk to politicians and other leaders about the value of improving breastfeeding rates to achieve the SDGs.
  • Work to ensure that everyone in the community have access to skilled breastfeeding care.
  • Advocate for national health regulations which ensure that the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are integrated into maternity care at all birthing facilities.
  • Advocate for breastfeeding to be fully included in the curriculum for pre-service training of all physicians and nurses.

For the most up-to-date information about WBW 2016 and to download and purchase promotional materials, please visit the World Breastfeeding Week website by clicking here.

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