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The gold ribbon symbolizes that breastfeeding is the gold standard for infant feeding. The two loops of the bow represent the inseparable involvement of both the mother and the child in optimal breastfeeding
UNICEF's strategy for infant and young child feeding is based upon the Innocenti Declaration for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. The Innocenti Declaration was adopted in 1990 and was subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly and UNICEF's Executive Board. Member States of the UN reaffirmed the relevance and the urgency of the four Innocenti targets in the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2002.
The aim is to create an environment globally that empowers women to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and continue to breastfeed for two years or more. This is optimal infant and young child feeding, the Best Start to life. It is expected to improve the nutrition status, growth and development, health and thus the survival of infants and young children. It is closely linked to the related maternal nutrition that safeguards women's own well-being.
Four targets of the Innocenti Declaration are:
Appointment of a national breastfeeding coordinator of appropriate authority, and establishment of a multisectoral national breastfeeding committee;
Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding (the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative) practised in all maternity facilities;
Global implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions in their entirety;
Enactment of imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women; and establishment of means for enforcement of maternity protection.
The challenge of how to improve breastfeeding, with an overview of breastfeeding patterns in the 1990s, is summarised among the World Summit for Children goals.
The Global Strategy includes five additional operational targets:
· Implementation of comprehensive government policies on infant and young child feeding;
· Full support from health and other sectors for two years of breastfeeding or more;
· Promotion of timely, adequate, safe and appropriate complementary feeding (addition of other foods while breastfeeding continues);
· Guidance on infant and young child feeding in especially difficult circumstances, and related support for families and caregivers; and
· Legislation or suitable measures giving effect to the International Code as part of the national comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding.
UNICEF supports the tenets of the IYCF Strategy through the Medium Term Strategic Plan that underlines the importance of mulit-sectoral approach to improve health and nutrition.
These policies reflect Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, by which governments must ensure that all sectors of society know about the benefits of breastfeeding. In the especially difficult circumstances of HIV/AIDS-positive women, such benefits must be weighed against the risk of mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Current policies aim to continue support for breastfeeding, while ensuring informed choice on infant feeding options. Ongoing further research into the exact mechanisms of transmission will continue to inform guidelines on HIV/AIDS and infant feeding.
Especially difficult circumstances also include emergencies, in which continued breastfeeding must not be undermined by inappropriate donations and use of breastmilk substitutes. The Interagency Working Group on Infant Feeding in Emergencies, of which UNICEF is a part, has generated common Operational Guidance for Emergency Relief Staff and Programme Managers. Associated training modules for relief workers are being field tested.
This website provides Facts, figures and regional perspectives on infant and young child feeding, with a list of Key publications and links related to global targets. Communications relevant to the BFHI and Code targets are welcomed for possible posting on the Message Board and Events page.
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