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Could access early childhood care and education in one-third of countries in 2011.
Message of Sascha Graumann, UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan on the occasion of World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week is commemorated annually on 1-7 August. This week is a good opportunity for all of us to be reminded that breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life.
Evidence shows that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women.
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. Every dollar invested in supporting breastfeeding generates an estimated US$35 dollars in economic returns across lower and middle-income countries.
Yet, less than half of the world’s new-borns benefit from early breastfeeding and even fewer are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
According to a study published in Lancet, good breastfeeding practice for infants under two years of age has the greatest impact on child survival, with the potential to prevent over 800,000 deaths (13 per cent of all deaths) in children under five in the developing world.
In Uzbekistan, according to the state data, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in the country was more than 90% on discharge from maternity facilities in 2009. However, the rate declines to 50% in the subsequent months.
One of the bottlenecks for exclusive breastfeeding all over the world, including Uzbekistan, is the easy availability of formula milk as an alternative food for infants. UNICEF is working with the Government of Uzbekistan to improve nutrition status of children by strengthening breastfeeding practices; and one of the steps would be adopting the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes.
The Code is a set of recommendations to regulate the marketing of breast-milk substitutes, feeding bottles and teats. The Code aims to stop the aggressive and inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes.
The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together”. Breastfeeding is not is not just a one woman job. All of us – governments, decision-makers, development partners, professional bodies, academia, mass media, communities and families – must work together to support breastfeeding for a more sustainable future.
UNICEF in Uzbekistan will continue working together with the Ministry of Health and other partners to ensure that young mothers adopt the behaviours of early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding, and family members and societies support them in sustaining these important practices.