How can YOU support action steps to support breastfeeding for a healthier planet?
As a part of World Breastfeeding Week, World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has identified six action areas for creating change. We will share one with you for the next six days.
Day three action area: Leaving no one behind
Some families may be more vulnerable and require additional breastfeeding support. Vulnerable situations include emergencies, special needs or other medical conditions affecting the breastfeeding dyad. The increase in climate and environment-related disasters are a growing concern as the risks of undernutrition and child mortality are much higher than during normal times. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is another emergency that leaves families with children in an extremely vulnerable position. In every emergency, it is necessary to assess and act to protect and support the nutritional needs and care of both breastfed and nonbreastfed infants and young children. It is vital that national and international evidence-based guidelines are aligned to ensure that consistent messages reach the public.
Donations and non-targeted distributions of BMS can interfere and undermine breastfeeding. Unreliable supply chains of BMS and the unhygienic conditions that commonly prevail in emergency situations make breastfeeding the safest option. In the case of COVID-19, WHO and UNICEF recommend breastfeeding with necessary hygienic precautions. This may be revised as further evidence becomes available. The Operational Guidance on Infant Feeding in Emergencies (OG-IFE) explains the key actions to protect and support optimal IYCF in emergencies.
What you can do*
- Invest in consistent training programmes for different levels of health professionals, lactation consultants, community health workers and lay/peer supporters.
- Advocate for placement of appropriately-trained and skilled staff at various levels: peer supporters, health professionals, lactation consultants and resource persons.
- Promote scaling up of existing breastfeeding training tools and programmes including online, digital and e-learning methods, as well as face-to-face clinical and other practical teaching.
- Engage school children, students, youth and social media influencers to spread awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for planetary health.
* How you can support these efforts depends on your role in the breastfeeding and chestfeeding community. If you are a policy maker, please consider these priorities. If you are not, please call on your local, regional, and national leaders to take action. Or consider becoming a policy leader yourself, by getting involved with your breastfeeding coalition, public health agency, or an elected office – we need your leadership at the highest possible level!
The 2020 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) theme is Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet. This year’s theme celebrates the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people. Join International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) and WABA in observing WBW 1-7 August 2020.