There is no single country in the world which meets the recommended standards for breastfeeding, a new report by UNICEF and WHO in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a new initiative to increase global breastfeeding rates says. After evaluating 194 nations, The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard found out that only 40 per cent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates over 60%.
According to medical science, breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both mother and newborn. During the first six months of a baby’s life, it is very crucial, as it prevents diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in babies. Women who have breastfed are less likely to have ovarian cancer or breast cancer in life, which are two leading causes of death among women.
"Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "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."
"Breastfeeding is one of the most effective—and cost effective—investments nations can make in the health of their youngest members and the future health of their economies and societies," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "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."
The results show that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria, the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per annum and US$ 119 billion in economic losses.
Investment in breastfeeding is very low. Every year, government in lower and middle-income countries spend approx US $250 million on breastfeeding promotion and donors provide only an additional US $ 85 million.
Breastfeeding is an important aspect for achievement of many of the sustainable development goals. It enhances nutrition, prevents infant deaths and reduces risk of non-communicable diseases. It also aids cognitive development and education. Breastfeeding is a trigger to end poverty, promote economic growth and reducing disparities.
August 1 to 7 is being observed as World Breastfeeding Week to raise awareness about breastfeeding among the population.