As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the World Breastfeeding Week, the Developing-8 (D-8) Organisation for Economic Cooperation has called for improved investment in low- and middle-income countries to promote breastfeeding. The organisation also tasked its members and the world at large to embrace breastfeeding as a universal solution that provides a fair start for every child in life and improves the health of women and children.

Developing-8 is an organisation representing Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey with a combined population of approximately 1 billion. In a statement signed by its special adviser and head, health and social protection secretariat, Ado Muhammad, the organisation emphasised the need to raise awareness of the links between breastfeeding and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The World Breastfeeding Week is marked annually from August 1 to 7 to highlight the critical importance of breastfeeding for children across the globe. The theme for the 2019 breastfeeding week is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”. “Improving breastfeeding practices is important to us in the D-8 HSP because it makes the world healthier, smarter and more equal,” Mr Muhammad said. “Our goal is to support our member states to reach the Health SDGs and breastfeeding is a critical key in achieving it, especially the SDG2 and SDG3 which include ending hunger, improving nutrition and promoting health and wellbeing”.

Mr Muhammad further noted that breastfeeding is one of the keys to reducing under-five mortality, saves more lives and is cost-effective. “According to research, breast milk helps to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea, two of the leading causes of death for children under five. Babies who are breastfed are 14 times less likely to die than those who are not fed breast milk,” he said.

Meanwhile, the World Bank’s new Investment Framework for Nutrition estimates that every dollar invested in promoting breastfeeding can generate a return of $35 in economic benefits. The Executive Director of the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, said 60 per cent of the world’s infants are still missing out on exclusive breasting.

In a statement published on its website, Ms Fore said “The health, social and economic benefits of breastfeeding, for both mother and child, are well-established and accepted throughout the world. Yet, nearly 60 per cent of the world’s infants are missing out on the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding. In spite of the benefits of breastfeeding, workplaces worldwide are denying mothers much needed support. We need to far greater investment in paid parental leave and breastfeeding support across all workplaces to increase breastfeeding rates globally,” she said.


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