To encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world, the first week of August (aug 1-7), is celebrated as world breastfeeding week (WBW) in more than 120 countries. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organizations to support breastfeeding.
- The theme for 2019 is “Empower parents, Enable Breastfeeding”.
- This event was first celebrated in the year 1992 and is organised every year by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
- Awareness programmes like puppet shows, skits, dance and drama, films, slide shows, etc will be organised.
- This nutrition intervention will help the govt. to achieve Sustainable Development 2030 and National Nutrition Goals.
Events in India
The focus of this year is protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding.
- The food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development has organised no. of activities like Annaprashan Ceremony and Quiz competition on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) are being conducted in all states and union territories through 43 community Food and Nutrition Extension Units of Food and Nutrition Board.
- The other functionaries involved are Home science colleges, Medical Institutes, NGOs (Non Government Organisations) and others.
Importance of breastfeeding
- WHO recommends breastfeeding starting after one hour of baby’s birth until the baby is 6 months old.
- Antibodies present in breast milk fights off viruses and bacteria and babies breast-fed for the first six months have fewer ear infections, respiratory illness, and bouts of diarrhoea.
- Breastfeeding reduces risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and postpartum depression.
- Continued breastfeeding up to the age of 2 years or beyond will increase the IQ (Intelligence Quotient) level in infants.
WHO and UNICEF collaboration
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) along with UNICEF and their other partners works to promote the importance of family-friendly policies which includes paid maternity leave for min. of 18 weeks to encourage responsibility of caring.
- According to WHO, increased breastfeeding to near-international level can save upto 8 lakh lives every year( majority being infants under 6 months)