World Breastfeeding Week is an annual celebration that occurs each year from the 1st to the 7th August in more than 120 countries. Each year there is a different theme that is organised jointly by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action. This year’s theme is “Breastfeeding A Key to Sustainable Development”.
As the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action says if you care about people, the planet, prosperity and peace then you should join those who believe in a sustainable environment. World Breastfeeding Week this year focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that governments around the world have agreed to achieve by 2030. The SDGs build on what was previously called the Millennium Development Goals. They cover a range of issues including ecology, economy and equity, ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education and making cities more sustainable.
New evidence presented in the UK by the medical journal The Lancet confirms that optimal breastfeeding could save 823,000 child lives and add US$303 billion to the global economy annually.
Some Facts and Figures:
- Breastmilk is a natural and renewable food that is environmentally safe and is produced without pollution, packaging or waste. No greenhouse gas emissions either.
- Undernutrition, including sub optimal breastfeeding, underlies 45% of all deaths of children under 5 years annually.
- Human milk boosts a baby’s poorly developed immune system, helping baby fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.
- Breastfeeding can actually lessen the risk of some diseases later in life including: Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, Leukaemia, Obesity, High Cholesterol, Cohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Asthma.
- Breastfeeding on demand provides all the water a baby needs. On very hot days the breastmilk becomes more watery. On the other hand, formula feeding requires access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation.
- Families worldwide spend an estimated US$54 billion annually purchasing milk formula.
- It is estimated that more than 4000 litres of water is needed to produce 1 kilogram of formula powder.
- Breastfeeding and adequate complementary foods are fundamentals for readiness to learn. Breastfeeding and good quality complementary foods significantly contribute to mental and cognitive development and so promote learning.
With industrialization and urbanization increasing, the time and space challenges become more prominent. Breastfeeding mothers who work outside the home need to manage these challenges and be supported by employers, their own family and community. Creches near the workplace, lactation rooms and breastfeeding breaks can make a big difference.
For more information on World Breastfeeding Week, visit theWorld Breastfeeding Week website worldbreastfeedingweek.org.