Press Release - Breast Feeding Week
Gaborone, 1 August 2012 – On the 20th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF says strong national policies supporting breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of around 1 million children under five in the developing world each year.
Despite compelling evidence that exclusive breastfeeding prevents diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia that kill millions of children every year, global rates of breastfeeding have remained relatively stagnant in the developing world, growing from 32 per cent in 1995 to 39 per cent in 2010.
“If breastfeeding were promoted more effectively and women were protected from aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, we would see more children survive and thrive, with lower rates of disease and lower rates of malnutrition and stunting,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
Some of the roadblocks to improving breastfeeding rates are widespread and unethical marketing by makers of breast milk substitutes, poor national policies that do not support maternity leave, and a lack of understanding of the risks of not breastfeeding.
The 2008 Lancet Nutrition Series highlighted the fact that a non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die in the first six months than an exclusively breastfed child. Breast milk meets a baby's complete nutritional requirements and is one of the best values among investments in child survival as the primary cost is the mother’s nutrition.
Giving remarks on breast feeding week in Gaborone, UNICEF Botswana Nutrition Specialist Patrick Codjia emphasised the need for a strong national policy to support breastfeeding. He further noted that monitoring of the implementation of the Global Strategy is crucial as highlighted by the Ministry of Health led evaluation of the implementation of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) conducted in Botswana in 2010.
“This evaluation gave us the opportunity to understand the past especially decreasing trends in breastfeeding and plan for the future in the area of infant and young child feeding in Botswana” said Mr Codjia.
In Botswana UNICEF along with partners will continue its support to the Ministry of Health for the effective implementation of the Global strategy for IYCF.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org/botswana
For further information, please contact:
Lesego Agang, Communications Officer, UNICEF Botswana