World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a global campaign to raise awareness and initiate action on themes related to breastfeeding. For this year, the theme “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet” focuses on the impact of infant feeding on the environment/climate change and the imperative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the health of the planet and its people.
In the joint message given by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, they are calling on governments to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling, which is a critical component of breastfeeding support. The agencies noted that skilled counselling services can ensure mothers and families receive this support, along with the information, advice, and reassurance they need to nourish their babies in the best way.
Breastfeeding provides health and nutritional benefits to both children and mothers. In fact, top officials of UNICEF and WHO emphasized that exclusive breastfeeding could save more lives and generate additional income. During this COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important to show encouragement and give support to the mothers. Counselling can empower women to overcome challenges and prevent feeding and care practices that may interfere with optimal breastfeeding.
In line with this year’s World Breastfeeding Week theme, UNICEF and WHO are calling on governments to INVEST, TRAIN, ENSURE, PARTNER, and PROTECT.
- INVEST to make skilled breastfeeding counselling available to every woman.
- TRAIN health care workers to deliver skilled breastfeeding counselling to mothers and families.
- ENSURE that counselling is made available as part of routine health and nutrition services that are easily accessible.
- PARTNER and collaborate with civil society and health professional associations to build a strong collaborative systems for provision of appropriate counselling.
- PROTECT health care workers from the influence of the baby food industry
WHO and UNICEF recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Exclusive breastfeeding has an important role in the prevention of different forms of childhood malnutrition, including wasting, stunting, over- and underweight and micronutrient deficiencies. Therefore, during this time of pandemic it is more important to find solutions so that mothers and families can and continue to receive the breastfeeding counselling they need.
AA VI Cielo Katrina M. Mabalot
“World Breastfeeding Week 2020 Message” from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/31-07-2020-world-breastfeeding-week-2020-message#:~:text=The%20theme%20of%20World%20Breastfeeding,critical%20component%20of%20breastfeeding%20support.
“World Breastfeeding Week 2020” from https://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/event/world-breastfeeding-week-2020/
“World Breastfeeding Week: WHO, UNICEF advocate enhanced skilled counselling for nursing mothers” from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/406406-world-breastfeeding-week-who-unicef-advocate-enhanced-skilled-counselling-for-nursing-mothers.html