World Breastfeeding Week is globally celebrated every year from 1st to 7th August in more than 120 countries. It was first held in 1992 and commemorates the Innocenti Declaration signed in August 1990 by a mix of government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other organisations. WBW has a theme every year. The theme for World Breastfeeding Week 2021 will be ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’. The umbrella goal is to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
What is World Breastfeeding Week?
The initiative was started to spread awareness about the importance and power of breastfeeding in lowering infant mortality, providing sufficient nutrition for healthy growth in infants and lowering the risk of ovarian and breast cancer among women. Since 2016, World Breastfeeding Week is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, with the intergovernmental body recognising the power of breastfeeding to improve child health and development as well as reduce consumer waste, and provide worldwide equity to give every child their best start in life.
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
These global goals are concerning the people, the planet, prosperity and peace. It has been concluded that breastfeeding is one of many sustainable solutions to a global health crisis.
The main objective of the campaign is to encourage and support systems that support breastfeeding. The most basic of the goals being, but not limited to, limiting obstacles to breastfeeding within the health system, the workplace and the larger community and increasing measures to guarantee women are adequately nourished at all times.
The 2021 theme was chosen to highlight the links between breastfeeding and survival, health and wellbeing of women, children and entire nations. Every annual theme encourages causes such as support for working mothers, baby-friendly hospitals, and women and babies health, as well as efforts to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months, up to at least 50 per cent.
The theme also stresses that although support at an individual level is very important and appreciated, breastfeeding must be given the importance of a public health issue and must involve investment at all levels. Breastfeeding promotes better health for mothers and children alike. It has been found that breastfeeding decreases the mother’s risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Shockingly, increased the frequency of breastfeeding could also eliminate as many as 20,000 maternal deaths each year due to breast cancer.
Ideal levels of breastfeeding are vital for the healthy and long life of the child and mother. WHO and UNICEF thus recommend:
Breastfeeding must start immediately, within 1 hour of birth
Breastfeeding should be done exclusively for the first six months of life
Breastfeeding should be carried out up to 2 years of age or beyond while introducing nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months
Support the campaign by starting the conversation everywhere. Ask a simple question – how can we help mothers and families better and them feel supported in their breastfeeding journey?