World Ladyfeeding Week: Ladyfeeding Nurtures the Health and Wealth of Nations – WHO, UNICEF

by Kim Boateng Posted on August 1st, 2017

World Ladyfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies. The theme for 2017 World Ladyfeeding Week (WBW) is Sustaining Ladyfeeding Together. On World Ladyfeeding Week (August 1 to August 7)  The World Health Organization, WHO, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) jointly emphasize that breastfeeding nurtures the health and wealth of nations. In a joint paper titled, “Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Ladyfeeding” they stress that breastfeeding is not only an investment in improving children’s health and saving lives, but also an investment in human capital development that can benefit a country’s economy. Ladyfeeding is one of the best investments in global health: every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in economic returns.

In China, India, Nigeria, Mexico and Indonesia alone, inadequate breastfeeding is responsible for more than 236,000 child deaths each year; in these countries, the estimated future economic cost of mortality and cognitive losses attributed to inadequate breastfeeding are estimated to be almost $119 billion per year.

In order to meet the World Health Assembly target of increasing the percentage of children under 6 months of age who are exclusively breastfed to at least 50 percent by 2025, an additional $5.7 billion is required. This investment translates to just $4.70 per newborn. Greater progress is possible. With the right level of ambition and the right policies and investment, countries can fully realize the potential gains from breastfeeding.

WHO and UNICEF recommend that breastfeeding be initiated within one hour of birth, that it continue with no other foods or liquids for the first six months of life, and that it be continued with complementary feeding (breastfeeding with other
age-appropriate foods) until at least 24 months of age. EXCLUSIVE BREASTFEEDING up to six months of age means that the infant receives only breast milk. No other liquids or solids are given—not even water— with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals, or medicines.

Ladyfeeding Is One Of The Smartest Investments A Country Can Make To Build Its Future Prosperity.

It offers children unparalleled health and brain-building benefits. It has the power to save the lives of women and children throughout the world, and the power to help national economies grow through lower health
care costs and smarter workforces. Yet many societies are failing to adequately support women to breastfeed, and as a result, the majority of the world’s children—along with a majority of the world’s countries—are not able to reap the full benefits of breastfeeding.

The case to invest in breastfeeding has never been stronger, nor the need for action clearer says WHO and UNICEF. In 2012, the 194 countries of the World Health Assembly (WHA) committed to a target of increasing the global prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life from the then baseline of 37 percent to at least 50 percent by 2025. But ensuring that at least half of the world’s children are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their lives should be a starting point, not an endgame. Rapid progress is possible with investments in policies and programs that better support women to breastfeed, and that ensure that more of the world’s children have the opportunity to thrive.

The Impact Of Ladyfeeding

From the first hour of an infant’s life, breastfeeding has an enormous impact on health and development.

Ladyfeeding Lays The Foundation For Good Health

Optimal breastfeeding could have the single largest impact on child mortality of any preventive intervention.vi The Lancet estimated that scaling up breastfeeding to a near universal level could prevent 823,000 child deaths per year.

Artificial feeding leads to common diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia, which are leading causes of child mortality. By supporting mothers to practice proper breastfeeding, nearly 50 percent of diarrhea episodes and a third of respiratory infections would be avoided.

Ladyfeeding has been found to reduce the risk of childhood obesity and diabetes in children.

Ladyfeeding is also a natural and necessary part of the reproductive cycle for women, and as such, has a significant impact on a mother’s health.

Ladyfeeding contributes to delayed return of menstruation and thereby, to birth spacing.


Woman Ladyfeeding On World Ladyfeeding Week

Research has shown that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancers for nursing mothers later in life.

The Lancet estimates 20,000 breast cancer deaths could be prevented annually as a result of optimal breastfeeding.

Ladyfeeding Plays An Unparalleled Role In Building Young Children’s Brains

Ladyfeeding has been shown to play a critical role in fostering a young child’s brain development and cognitive capacity. The Lancet series on breastfeeding reported that shorter durations of breastfeeding for children were associated with a 2.6 point loss in IQ scores. Additional studies concur, showing that non-breastfed children had significantly lower IQ scores and smaller brains overall.

Ladyfeeding In Nigeria According To Who/unicef

The story in Nigeria is different. The prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in children below the age of six months is only 17 percent, which means that at least 5.4 million children each year do not get the powerful health and immunological benefits of breastfeeding. In a country with a high under-five mortality rate and high birth rate, inadequate breastfeeding leads to 103,742 child deaths each year which in turn translates into almost $12 billion in future economic losses for the country. When cognitive losses and health costs are added in, inadequate breastfeeding is estimated to cost the Nigerian economy $21 billion per year, or 4.1 percent of its GNI.

Author

Kim Boateng

Kim Boateng

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