UNICEF, WHO report reveals failure in global breastfeeding
‘Nigeria, four other countries lose 236,000 children, N36.3trillion yearly’
Five of the world’s largest emerging economies — China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria — have lost 236,000 children and N36.3 trillion yearly owing to lack of investment in breastfeeding, according to a scorecard on global breastfeeding published yesterday.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) published the report in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective (GBC), a new initiative, to increase global breastfeeding rates.
According to the new report, despite evidence that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers, no country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding.
The report titled “Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding”, released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week (August 1 – 8) alongside a new analysis stated that a yearly investment of only $4.70 (N1,433) per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50 per cent by 2025.
The report said that meeting this target could save the lives of 520,000 children under the age of five and potentially generate $300 billion (N91.5 trillion) in economic gains over 10 years.
Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life. Breast milk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.”
Also, UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said: “Breastfeeding is one of the most effective— and cost-effective—investments nations can make in the health of their youngest members and the future health of their economies and societies. By failing to invest in breastfeeding, we are failing mothers and their babies and paying a double price: in lost lives and in lost opportunity.”
The GBC, therefore, called on countries to:
• Increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years;
• Fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions through strong legal measures that are enforced and independently monitored by organisations free from conflicts of interest, among others.
• Improve access to skilled breastfeeding counselling as part of comprehensive breastfeeding policies and programmes in health facilities;
• Strengthen links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks that protect, promote and support breastfeeding;
• Strengthen monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets, among others.