According to the 2017 WHO report(1), 3 out of 5 of all infants are not breastfed within the first hour following their births and only 41% of infants under six months are exclusively breastfed. More than 820,000 children could be saved each year if all 0-23-month-olds were optimally fed.
In 2015, WHO and UNICEF began a process to re-evaluate and reinvigorate the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiate (BFHI) program. In 2018, an implementation guidance document called upon countries to fulfil the following nine key responsibilities through a national program(2):
For the remainder of this year, we will focus on these nine areas to assist you in creating evidence-based changes in your own birthing and breastfeeding environment and in working on a national level to have your country be a better participant of the Ten Steps and BFHI programs. The goal is that together, we can increase the numbers of infants being safely kept in skin-to-skin, breastfed immediately post-birth, and exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months.
The International Code is directed at governments, health workers, infant food/formula/bottle and teat companies and everyone who has a responsibility to protect, promote and support breastfeeding(3). Perhaps we can encourage our local and national governments to ensure that these products are not inappropriately marketed directly to families and health care professionals.
Stay safe and thank you for supporting, promoting, and protecting breastfeeding. We do this for the infants!
Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC
Professional Development Educator
1. World Health Organization. (2017). Health topics: Breastfeeding. Retrieved from www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
2. World Health Organization. (2020). Promoting baby-friendly hospitals. Retrieved from www.who.int/activities/promoting-baby-friendly-hospitals/
3. The international code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes: frequently asked questions on the roles and responsibilities of health workers. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
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Last Updated: September 2018