The union health ministry will conduct activities to create awareness and advocate benefits of breastfeeding on the first week of every month till 2022, declared the health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan.
The minister also released a report card on breastfeeding and infant and child feeding practices with data from states and UTs while speaking at a function to mark the World Breastfeeding Week-2019.
The theme of the World Breastfeeding Week this year is ‘To empower parents, enable breastfeeding: now and for the future’.
He stated that breastfeeding is the most cost effective intervention that addresses the ‘survive and thrive agenda’ of child health.
Breast feeding is the first vaccine that protects both the mother and child. Studies have highlighted how breastfeeding could prevent diseases and deaths in children and future breast and ovarian cancer in mothers.
“Early initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth can prevent neonatal mortality; whereas exclusive breastfeeding for six months significantly reduces episodes of diarrhoea and pneumonia in infants and children,” he said.
“The activities around breastfeeding should be sustained throughout the year and therefore the health ministry will be carrying out activities to promote breastfeeding by creating awareness about its multi-fold benefits from 1st to 7th of every month till 2022,” he stressed.
The promotion and support of breastfeeding will take place at community levels and by building an enabling environment. Reinforcing lactation support services at public health facilities through trained healthcare providers and awareness generation activities at community level are also being focused.
“Breastfeeding should not be seen as an issue that concerns only women and mothers. Let’s make it a shared societal responsibility where not only the mother but all in her family, community and also at work place support her by creating an enabling environment,” said Dr Vardhan.