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12 Dec, 2012

Campaign To Avoid Infant Formula: 86 Nations Pledge to Protect Every Feeding Mother


New Delhi, December 10 (World Breastfeeding Conference News Release): After the three day-long extensive conference, 86 countries including more than 100 representatives from 50 Governments, 30 UN representatives and 150 civil society groups successfully concluded the future strategies to put breastfeeding on the global agenda and pledged to protect every feeding mother.

The Valedictory ceremony was graced by the presence of Dr.Syeda Hameed, Member Health Planning Commission India, Prof. A.F.M Ruhal Haque Minister of Health, People Republic of Bangladesh, and Mr. Homme Eivind Ambassador Norwegian Embassy.

World Breastfeeding Conference 2012 recognizes the need to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding, which is currently in dismal state across countries. Almost 7 million children die globally every year, largely from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and newborn infections. These figures call for the urgent need of breastfeeding, which is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ but a public health imperative. Initiating breastfeeding within the first hour of birth can reduce neonatal mortality by 20%, but shockingly, more than half the world’s newborns are not breastfed within that span of time.

The reasons, among many, that the 2012 World Breastfeeding Conference Declaration cited – women lacks support to breastfeed; baby food and feeding products industries continue to mislead parents and market products aggressively. The Declaration released call upon all concerned to adopt a human right based approach to the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding at international, national, and community levels.

“The world breastfeeding conference is a wonderful forum. I can’t ever have been to a conference like this and to have audience with so much of enthusiasm. The planning commission of India feels strongly about the issue and we do have a long way to go. The 12th five year plan will ensure and lay the road map for women and child health paradigm from 2012 to 2017 and it’s important that women and children are not confined to one or two chapters. A dedicated budget line is needed for this. Every child needs the closeness body and milk of the mother; and nutritious home cooked food is essential.” said Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member Health Planning Commission India.

Prof. Ruhal Haque mentioned in his speech at the ceremony “…it’s crucial to focus on mother support group by health care system workers in the rural areas. A consolidated effort from all partners is essential.”

Following actions were declared at the conference:

1. Adopt a human right-based approach to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding at international, national, sub-national and community levels.

2. Establish institutional mechanisms to avoid and manage conflicts of interest in health and nutrition decision-making and programme implementation.

3. Support all women with a comprehensive system of maternity protection at work, including the non-formal sector, with a provision of financing.

4. Ensure appropriate and adequate education and training of all health care professionals and allied health and community workers both in pre-service and in- service, and in all sectors, to counter widespread ignorance.

5. Establish clear budget lines for breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding policy and programme interventions to ensure adequate human and financial resources in order to enhance optimal practices.

6. Invest in the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative including mother friendly practices and link it to community initiatives. Further this should be rooted in all maternal and neonatal health programmes, and with due attention to low birth weight babies.

7. Publicize widely the multiple risks of artificial feeding, bottles and teats as well as early complementary feeding through all kinds of media campaigns.

8. Ensure universal access to accurate information and counseling on breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding to all mothers, and to does that provide skilled counselors in the health facilities and in the community so that they are available for any situation.

9. Monitor and track the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding in every country using World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) and advocate to bridge the gaps.

10. Protect breastfeeding from commercial sector, by strictly enforcing the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes and subsequent related World Health Assembly Resolutions and prohibit all kinds of promotion of commercial foods for children for two years or beyond.

11. Promote the use of affordable and diverse, locally grown, indigenous foods for timely and appropriate complementary feeding after six- months along with continued breastfeeding.

12. Enhance and support breastfeeding related research with public funding.

Download Report: Are Our Babies Falling Through The Gaps?