New Delhi: World Health Organisation states, breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. However, nearly 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months—a rate that has not improved in two decades. It also says that if breastfeeding were scaled up to near universal levels, about 8,20,000 child lives would be saved every year. In India, as per, National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) findings, conducted in 2019-20 for 22 states and Union Territories (UTs), a worrying trend in child feeding practices has been observed. As per the data, a significant decline has been reported in children under three years of age who are breastfed within one hour of birth. On the other hand, the survey shows an improvement in exclusive breastfeeding with 16 states and UTs reporting a rise.
To improve the status of breastfeeding in the world, World Health Assembly, the forum through which the World Health Organization is governed by its 194 member states, had set a target of increasing the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months to at least 50 per cent by 2025 globally, compared to the prevalent rate of 38 per cent in 2012. As the World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year, from August 1 – 7, here are five things to know about this campaign:
What Is World Breastfeeding Week?
Every year the world marks Breastfeeding Week from August 1 to August 7. It is celebrated to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. It commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) and other organisations to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Importance Of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is the way of providing young infants with the essential nutrients required for their growth and development. World Health Organisation says that breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
Breast milk also provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life. World Health Organisation recommends initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of the birth of a child. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for up to six months.
WHO and UNICEF state that breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Not just babies, breastfeeding is also beneficial for women, WHO says that women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Theme For World Breastfeeding Week 2019
World Breastfeeding Week is marked every year with a particular theme. This year, the theme for breastfeeding week is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”. The focus is on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all, and why it is imperative to protect breastfeeding worldwide.
History Of Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week dates back to 1979 when WHO started a battle against baby foods being promoted in the market, and brands interfering in breastfeeding in hospitals. Globally, it was noticed that powdered milk formula had a negative impact on the health of children and something needed to be done. In 1990, agencies and lawmakers got inspired by breastfeeding movement and signed Innocenti Declaration. Since 2016, World Breastfeeding Week is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, a World Health Assembly resolution endorsed World Breastfeeding Week as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.