The Food and Nutrition Board, Ministry of Women and Child Development, is organizing a number of activities on the theme “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding” during the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) being observed from 1st to 7th August 2019. The focus this year is on protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding.
Activities like Annaprashan Ceremony and Quiz competition on IYCF are being conducted in 30 States and Union Territories through 43 Community Food and Nutrition Extension Units of Food and Nutrition Board, involving the State functionaries of Health Department, Home Science Colleges, Medical Institutes, Universities, NGOs and other stakeholders.
The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week are:
- To create awareness among the parents about breastfeeding
- Encourage parents to adopt breastfeeding
- Creating awareness about the importance of initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, and adequate and appropriate complementary feeding
- Providing advocacy material about the importance of breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is important because:
- It promotes better health for mothers and children alike.
- It prevents infections like diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections in early infancy and thus reduce infant mortality
- It decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease and
- It protects infants from obesity-related illnesses, diabetes and increases the IQ.
The correct norms of infant and young child feeding are:
- Initiation of Breastfeeding within an hour of birth
- Exclusive breastfeeding for first six months of life i.e. only breast Milk ‘NO’ other milk, food, drink or water
- Appropriate and adequate complementary feeding from six months of age while continuing breastfeeding
- Continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond
The activities being organized during the World Breastfeeding Week are symposiums for lactating mothers and anganwadi workers to create awareness about the importance of breastfeeding, annaprashan ceremony of babies at anganwadi centres by collecting beneficiaries from adjoining anganwadi centres, competition on nutritious recipes and quiz competitions.
Apart from this, exhibitions, on nutrition, displaying low cost nutritious diets for infants and young children will also be organized at grassroots level. Awareness generation on healthy eating, maintenance of hygiene and sanitation and its importance will be held for pregnant and lactating mothers. In addition to this, awareness programmes will be held at the village level through puppet shows, skits, dance and drama, films, slide shows, AV Spots and rallies.
This important nutrition intervention will help in breaking the vicious cycle of malnutrition and aid the Government to achieve National Nutrition Goals and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030. According to WHO, increasing breastfeeding to near-international levels will help in saving more than 800 000 lives every year, the majority being children under 6 months.