The Developing-8 countries, Organization for Economic Cooperation, (D-8) has 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 health, well being and survival of women and children.
The organisation has also called for improved investment in low- and middle-income countries alike, to promote breastfeeding.
The call comes as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2019 Breastfeeding Week
In a statement signed by its Special Adviser and Head Health and Social Protection secretariat, Dr. Ado Muhammad, the D-8 emphasised the need to raise awareness of the links between breastfeeding and Sustainable Development Goals.
“Improving breastfeeding practices is important to us in the D-8 HSP because it makes the world healthier, smarter, and more equal. Our goal is to support our member states to reach the Health SDGs and breastfeeding is a critical key in achieving it, especially the SDG 2 and SDG3 which include ending hunger, improving nutrition and promoting health and well being”.
The theme for the 2019 breastfeeding week “Empower Parents Enable Breastfeeding, focuses on the benefits of breastfeeding for individuals, families and societies, which includes ending preventable child deaths, improving maternal and child health, boosting educational attainment, and increasing productivity globally.
According to Dr. Ado “Breastfeeding is one of the keys to reducing under-five mortality, saves more lives and is cost effective, so we consider it as an easy health innovation and best practice that could reduce infant and child mortality as well as improve family planning”
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; this means that breastfeeding benefits not only individual children and families, but also the entire economy.
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.
As new-borns account for nearly half of all deaths of children under five; the longer breastfeeding is delayed, the higher the risk of death in the first month of life, leading to reduction in incidents of death in new-born babies.
While emphasising the benefits of breastfeeding, experts have also warned that delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours after birth increases the risk of dying in the first 28 days of a baby’s life by 40 per cent.
To achieve its breastfeeding promotion goals, the D-8 HSP has encouraged its member countries to align with the programs that promote breastfeeding as a cost-effective way to save and improve the lives of children everywhere, yielding lifelong health benefits for infants and their mothers.