Significance of breastfeeding in boosting child health has drawn a special attention in the light of the World Breastfeeding Week 2017 (August 1-7, 2017).
Marking importance of the Week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released a report titled-Tracking Progress for Breastfeeding Policies and Programmes: Global breastfeeding scorecard 2017, wherein, it revealed some alarming facts on the status of breastfeeding practice across the world.
“The overall rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months of age is 40 percent. Only 23 countries have achieved at least 60 percent of infants less than six months being exclusively breastfed. This problem is particularly seen in the Americas, where only six percent of the countries have an exclusive breastfeeding rate above 60 percent. The collective has established a target to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 60 percent by 2030,” says the report.
Interestingly, WHO called Nepal as one country that has taken on seriously the challenges of protecting breastfeeding on a national scale.
“Nepal is spending USD 2.9 million of funding from external donors on breastfeeding support, which translates to just over USD 5 per birth. 66 percent of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed and at two years, 89% are still breastfeeding,” the report said.
According to UNICEF, all primary health care facilities in Nepal provide individual counseling on infant and young child feeding, while also lauding Nepali districts for implementing community-based nutrition, health or other programs under IYCF counseling.
On the other side, the rampant usage of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS) is still a concern in Nepal despite the existence of the Mother’s Milk Substitutes (control of sale and distribution) Act.
According to Atul Upadhyay, Senior Project Manager at Helen Keller International Nepal, Nepal has been facing challenges with BMS products and mostly the working women use mother’s milk substitutes.
Use of BMS products adversely affects the Nepal economy, says Raj Kumar Pokharel, Chief of Nutrition Section, Child Health Division, Nepal.
The World Breastfeeding Week, which falls in the first week of August (1-7) every year, is an initiative put forth by a group of policy makers at a WHO/UNICEF meeting, to promote breastfeeding across the world. The initiative is aimed at achieving Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding programme put forth by the WHO and UNICEF in 2002.