World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated every year across the world - from August 1 to August 7. This global campaign aims to raise awareness about breastfeeding and its advantages. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival across the globe. The overarching goal of the week is to highlight the importance of breastfeeding, to encourage and promote breastfeeding and to improve the health of babies and mothers all around the globe.
Celebrated in more than 120 countries every year, World Breastfeeding Week aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to the health and welfare of babies and benefits to maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction, and food security. WBW has the dual goal of improving the health of babies and promoting, protecting, and supporting the rights of women to breastfeed anywhere and at any time.
#WBW2022 will focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society. These actors make up the warm chain of support for breastfeeding. Target audiences including governments, health systems, workplaces and communities will be informed, educated and empowered to strengthen their capacity to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for families. The theme is aligned with the thematic area 1 of the WBW-SDG 2030 campaign which highlights the links between breastfeeding and good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities.
World Breastfeeding Week dates back to 1979 when WHO started a battle against baby foods being promoted in the market, and brands interfering in breastfeeding in hospitals. Globally, it was noticed that powdered milk formula had a negative impact on the health of children and something needed to be done. In 1990, agencies and lawmakers got inspired by breastfeeding movement and signed Innocenti Declaration. World Breastfeeding Week has been celebrated since 1992 and includes annual themes such as healthcare systems and women.
Since 2016, World Breastfeeding Week is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2018, a World Health Assembly resolution endorsed World Breastfeeding Week as an important breastfeeding promotion strategy.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding, also known as nursing, is the best way to provide young infants with the essential nutrients required for growth and development. WHO says that breast milk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean, and reliable and acts as the babies' first vaccine.
Covid-19 and Breastfeeding
With the world still in the midst of a global pandemic, it is a good time to recognise how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all. Breastfeeding is key to effective implementation of sustainable development strategies especially in a post-pandemic world, as it improves nutrition, ensures food security and reduces inequalities between and within countries.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, more than ever, mothers need access to skilled support for breastfeeding. A woman with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so by following few precautions. According to WHO, before breastfeeding, a mother should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. In case of unavailability of water, one can use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 per cent alcohol content. Additionally, one should always wear a mask during any contact with the baby, including while feeding.