NEW YORK/GENEVA, 2 August 2021– “At the start of this year, governments, donors, civil society and the private sector united to launch the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action. The Year of Action is a historic opportunity to transform the way the world tackles the global commitment to eliminate child malnutrition.
“Breastfeeding is central to realizing this commitment.
“Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond offer a powerful line of defense against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Breastfeeding also acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses.
“While there has been progressing in breastfeeding rates in the last four decades– with a 50 percent increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding globally–the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the fragility of those gains.
“In many countries, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions in breastfeeding support services, while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. Several countries have reported that producers of baby foods have compounded these risks by invoking unfounded fears that breastfeeding can transmit COVID-19 and marketing their products as a safer alternative to breastfeeding.
“This year’s World Breastfeeding Week, under its theme ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility’is a time to revisit the commitments made at the start of this year by prioritizing breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies. This includes:
Ensuring the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes – established to protect mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry–is fully implemented by governments, health workers and industry.
“Now is not the time to lower our ambitions. Now is the time to aim high. We are committed to making the nutrition for Growth Year of Action success by ensuring that every child’s right to nutritious, safe and affordable food and adequate nutrition is realized from the beginning of life, starting with breastfeeding.”