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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 378-379  

Supporting women to initiate and continue breastfeeding: The World Health Organization and the United Nations

1 Vice Principal Curriculum, Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be) University, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication8-Jul-2019

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur-Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_225_18

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Supporting women to initiate and continue breastfeeding: The World Health Organization and the United Nations. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2019;12:378-9

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Supporting women to initiate and continue breastfeeding: The World Health Organization and the United Nations. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Dec 4];12:378-9. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/text.asp?2019/12/4/378/262233


Breastfeeding has been regarded as one of the best investments which a nation, a society, and a family can make to improve the quality of life of the newborn and the mother as well.[1] It ensures that regardless of the settings, the child gets the healthiest start in life, as it acts as the first potential vaccine. In addition, breastfeeding plays a crucial part in maintaining healthy growth and development predominantly in the first 2 years of life.[1] Moreover, by ensuring improvement in the child development and minimizing the episodes of illnesses, breastfeeding accounts for considerable financial gains for families and even reduces the burden on the health system.[1],[2]

The available global estimates suggest that five out of ten child deaths are linked with undernutrition and that millions of children are either stunted or wasted or obese due to improper dietary practices.[1] However, it is quite alarming that despite the practice of breastfeeding associated with a number of advantages for both the mother and the child, only four out of ten infants are exclusively breastfed for the recommended time frame.[1] Further, it has been estimated that each year lives of >0.82 million under-five children can be saved, providing that children in the 0–23-month age group is optimally breastfed.[1]

Furthermore, in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is essential to understand that apart from being crucial for the health of mothers and children, breastfeeding is extremely important for the attainment of various other SDGs such as improving nutrition, prevention of child mortality, and reduction in the risk of acquiring noncommunicable diseases, in assisting in cognitive development and education, and in ending poverty, facilitating financial growth, and minimizing inequalities.[1],[2] The World Health Organization, the United Nations, and other international agencies have acknowledged the importance of breastfeeding, and various steps have been taken to enhance the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding.[1],[2]

It is important to realize that breastfeeding is not a one-woman job and that they require support from different stakeholders to ensure that they can provide their children with the best possible start to their life.[3],[4] To create awareness about the merits linked with breastfeeding, each year in the first week of the August month, breastfeeding week is being observed across the world with a single goal to augment the awareness and enhance the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding.[1],[2] At the same time, measures have been taken to discourage the use of infant milk substitutes worldwide.[1]

In fact, recently, most of the international welfare agencies and nongovernmental agencies have joined their hands together to develop the Global Breastfeeding Collective, which will call for support from all stakeholders to formulate appropriate policies to enable more mothers to breastfeed.[3] This collective comprises enforcement of code for the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, strengthening of policies to help working women to breastfeed (either by increasing number of leaves or by making arrangements in the workplace), supporting mothers to initiate and continue breastfeeding both by health workers and by community support, and augmenting financial support to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.[2],[3],[4]

To conclude, a significant amount of progress can be achieved by means of investments in policies and strategies that motivate a woman to breastfeed her children. Thus, it is of utmost importance that all the concerned stakeholders should work in collaboration to strengthen the existing partnerships and identify new approaches to support breastfeeding.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Infant and Young Child Feeding – Fact Sheet. World Health Organization; 2018. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs342/en/. [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 08].  Back to cited text no. 1
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding for ensuring sustainable development. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:525-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
Ghebreyesus TA. Breastfeeding is not a One-Woman Job; 2017. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/commentaries/world-breastfeeding-week/en/. [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 08].  Back to cited text no. 3
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Exclusive breastfeeding and stakeholders: Only together we can make it work. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:127-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  

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