World Breastfeeding Week (coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) is a global campaign to raise awareness and galvanise action on themes related to breastfeeding. It started in 1992 and runs annually from 1 to 7 August. It encompasses a variety of themes, such as healthcare systems, women and work, community support, economy, science, education and human rights.
This year’s campaign focuses on how breastfeeding contributes to worldwide health and wellbeing, with emphasis on breastfeeding as a public health issue.
As we mark World Breastfeeding Week, it is important to recognise the achievements that have been made, such as the Baby Friendly Initiative, a partnership between the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF which supports breastfeeding and infant nutrition. But we must also look at where we are falling short and the reasons why.
Why is breastfeeding important?
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure child health and survival. Breast milk is the ideal food for infants; it also contains antibodies which help protect against common childhood illnesses, such as respiratory and gut infections. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.