World Breastfeeding Week
The World Breastfeeding Week (वर्ल्ड ब्रेस्टफीडिंग वीक or विश्व स्तनपान सप्ताह in Hindi) is an event held every year from 1st to 7th August to raise awareness about the benefits of breastfeeding and to urge global action for promoting breastfeeding.
Why is World Breastfeeding Week Celebrated?
The World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is organised by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).
It was started in 1992 to commemorate the “Innocenti Declaration” on the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding, which was signed in 1990. The aim of the event was to generate awareness and support for breastfeeding.
Since 2016, the World Breastfeeding Week campaign has been aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has been called the WBW-SDGs campaign.
Why is Breastfeeding Important?
Breastfeeding or nursing is the process of feeding breast milk to a child by the mother, from the breast or by pumping out the milk from the breast, storing it, and bottle-feeding it. Breast milk has numerous health benefits for the child and the mother.
Breast milk is safe, clean, and contains antibodies (proteins made by the immune system against foreign agents) which protect the child against common childhood infections. It supplies all essential nutrients to the child in requisite amounts in an easily digestible form.
It also protects the child against various allergies and diseases. Research suggests that breastfed children usually have higher IQ (Intelligence quotient) and are less likely to be overweight or obese.
Also, mothers who breastfeed have a stronger bond with their child and a reduced risk of many diseases such as postpartum depression, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
WHO and UNICEF recommend that children should be breastfed within the first hour of birth and exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. After the age of 6 months, children can be introduced to solid foods while continuing to be breastfed for up to 2 years and beyond.
What is The Theme of World Breastfeeding Week 2021?
The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2021 is “protect breastfeeding: a shared responsibility”. It focuses on the contribution of breastfeeding to every individual’s survival, overall health, and wellbeing.
Thus, there is a need to protect breastfeeding, improve public health, and advance the social and economic development of individuals and the country as a whole.
There are several challenges at the national, health system, and workplace levels to the cause of breastfeeding protection, promotion, and support. Thus, breastmilk substitute companies find it easier to market their products to parents.
The WABA states that countries need to enact and enforce legislation in line with the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and subsequent resolutions of the World Health Assembly in this regard.
Further, it is important that parents of young children have access to breastfeeding counselling and help from health institutions, workplaces, and communities. It is everyone's shared responsibility to safeguard, promote, and support breastfeeding to achieve sustainable development.
What Are The Objectives of The World Breastfeeding Week 2021?
The objectives of the World Breastfeeding Week are to:
Inform the public about the importance of protecting breastfeeding.
Anchor support towards breastfeeding as an important public health responsibility.
Engage with individuals and organisations for greater impact of the awareness campaign.
Galvanise global action on protecting breastfeeding to improve public health.
What is Happening in India During The World Breastfeeding Week 2021?
The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) is a non-profit organisation that works for promoting breastfeeding in India.
For the World Breastfeeding Week 2021, BPNI is organising several initiatives to:
Advocate the implementation and enforcement of the IMS Act.
Raise awareness about the marketing practices of the baby food and feeding bottle industry.
The IMS Act regulates the production, supply, and distribution of infant milk substitutes, feeding bottles, and foods with the aim of protecting and promoting breastfeeding.
What Can You Do?
You can take part in the commemoration of the World Breastfeeding Week 2021 by:
Spreading awareness about breastfeeding by using and distributing the campaign materials available on the WBW website.
Taking part in local activities being organised for the WBW and encouraging others to do so.
Joining social media movements dedicated to celebrating the WBW and promoting breastfeeding.
Remember, protecting breastfeeding is a shared responsibility. Do your bit for public health.
1. Worldbreastfeedingweek.org. 2021. World Breastfeeding Week – Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility. [online] Available at: <https://worldbreastfeedingweek.org/> [Accessed 23 July 2021].
2. Breastfeeding Promotion Network Of India - BPNI. 2021. World Breastfeeding Week-2021 - BPNI. [online] Available at: <https://www.bpni.org/world-breastfeeding-week-2021/> [Accessed 23 July 2021].
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