YES to the breastfeeding in public spaces!
In the World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF in Bulgaria and partners are launching a long-term supportive campaign
Babies and mothers around the world are suffering from lack in investment in support of breastfeeding, the latest UNICEF analysis reveals
Sofia, 1 August 2017: Today is the start of World Breastfeeding Week, which this year is held under the motto “Sustaining breastfeeding together”. Therefore, UNICEF in Bulgaria, together with National Association “Support for Breastfeeding” and Foundation “Our Prematurely-Born Children”, have launched a long0term initiative aiming to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding and promote the right of women to breastfeed in public spaces – such as libraries, galleries, shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, public transportation, museums, etc. The first one to join is the Child Scientific Center “Muzeiko” where the initiative was launched in the presence of state institutions – Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Policies, as well as UN agencies, NGOs, breastfeeding mothers and many friends of children.
Breastfeeding is essential for providing babies with the best start in life. Mother’s breast milk is the first vaccine and the healthiest source of food for the baby.
Ms. Maria Jesus Conde, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria
Despite its undeniable benefits for the well-being of both mothers and children, breastfeeding in Bulgaria usually lasts very shortly – which is not in the best interest of the child. UNICEF and WHO recommend that breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour after birth, that it continues with no other foods or liquid during the first 6 months of life, and that it continues with other age-appropriate foods until at least 24 months of age.
Around 40% of mothers around the world breastfeed exclusively until the 6th month. In Bulgaria this number is much lower – only about 5%.
Mr. Skender Syla, WHO Head of Office in Bulgaria
Many mothers start breastfeeding but stop very soon due to lack of skills to maintain lactation, as well as lack of sufficient support from health care professionals, families and communities.
Not only is breastfeeding a way of providing healthy food for the baby – it is a way of living. Therefore, we need the support of employers, institutions, communities and people in public spaces.
Dr. Aneta Popivanova, Chairperson of
National Association “Support for Breastfeeding”
Aggressive advertisements of breastmilk substitutes, combined with the insufficient public support for the mother, also contribute to early end of breastfeeding. In recent years, there has also been numerous cases of discrimination and violation of women’s right to breastfeed, including in public spaces – which shows clearly the need to change social perceptions and attitudes toward more support for breastfeeding.
For every child, but especially for the prematurely-born children breastfeeding is vital. That is why it has to be introduced into the neonatological units, not only to go out in the public spaces.
Dr. Boyana Petkova from
Foundation “Our Prematurely-Born Children”
Annually in Bulgaria, around 6 000 babies are born prematurely – which is 10% of all births – but only 1/5 of children in neonatological units are breastfed.
With this initiative UNICEF in Bulgaria and partners aim:
- To raise awareness and support for breastfeeding among general public, including for breastfeeding in public spaces;
- To advocate for legislative changes which protect every woman’s right to breastfeed in public spaces;
- To create a network of partners – public institutions, business partners, etc., where there are specially designed places for breastfeeding, and which actively promote breastfeeding. Such a positive example is the Child Scientific Center “Muzeiko”.
“Muzeiko has always been open to all parents and all children – this includes mothers with babies and young children who need support for breastfeeding – and in Muzeiko they are always welcome and appreciated“, said Ms. Bistra Kirova, CEO of Muzeiko.
In addition to the undoubted benefit for the physical, emotional and mental development of the child, breastfeeding also has significant benefits for the family and society as a whole. The reason is that breastfeeding has the potential to ensure high standard in health and productivity, which in turn are the basis for fulfilling the potential of every child. Moreover – breastfeeding in public is perceived as a rights of every women and is protected by international laws and regulations. In Bulgaria, however, there is insufficient legislative guarantees for control over commercial trade with breastmilk substitutes – states the latest Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, presented by UNICEF.
(additional details about - intheinformation below)
Additional information from global joint press release:
No country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a new initiative to increase global breastfeeding rates.
The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, found that only 40 per cent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively (given nothing but breast milk) and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent.
Evidence shows that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women.
“Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “Breastmilk 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.”
The scorecard was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis demonstrating that an annual investment of only US$4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50 per cent by 2025.
Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding, suggests that meeting this target could save the lives of 520,000 children under the age of five and potentially generate US$300 billion in economic gains over 10 years, as a result of reduced illness and health care costs and increased productivity.
“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,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “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 investment case shows that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies—China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria—the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.
Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding programs; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million.
The Global Breastfeeding Collective is calling 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 organizations free from conflicts of interest.
- Enact paid family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies, building on the International Labour Organization’s maternity protection guidelines as a minimum requirement, including provisions for the informal sector.
- Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breastmilk for sick and vulnerable newborns.
- mprove 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.
Breastfeeding is critical for the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals. It improves nutrition (SDG2), prevents child mortality and decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases (SDG3), and supports cognitive development and education (SDG4). Breastfeeding is also an enabler to ending poverty, promoting economic growth and reducing inequalities.
Notes to editors:
Multimedia content is available here.
Visit http://uni.cf/breastfeeding to download The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard and The Investment Case for Breastfeeding.
About the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard:
The Scorecard compiles data from countries all over the world on the status of seven priorities set by the Global Breastfeeding Collective to increase the rate of breastfeeding.
About the Global Breastfeeding Collective:
Co-led by UNICEF and WHO, the Global Breastfeeding Collective’s mission is to rally political, legal, financial, and public support for breastfeeding, which will benefit mothers, children, and society.