No country in the world meets breastfeeding threshold: UNICEF
(EBC; August 2, 2017) - There is not a single country in the world that meets the minimum support for breastfeeding mothers, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO).
The two agencies, in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, launched the report to mark the commencement of the World Breastfeeding Week.
The report recommends that mothers breastfeed infants within the first hour of birth, exclusively for six months and continue breastfeeding, while adding complementary foods, until the child is at least 2-years-old.
"Breastmilk works like a baby's first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, said in a release.
The initiative, which aims to increase global breastfeeding rates, points out that "breastfeeding helps prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia – two major causes of death in infants".
The report found that only 40 per cent of children younger than six months are given nothing but breastmilk and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent.
While urging government to put more funding into the cause, the report demonstrated that an annual investment of only 4.70 dollars per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50 per cent by 2025.
"By failing to invest in breastfeeding, we are failing mothers and their babies – and paying a double price: in lost lives and in lost opportunity," UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said.