Exclusive Breastfeeding is a Right of Every Newborn

This blog was originally published by the EVERY ONE Campaign. Written by Maheen Shaiq.

As part of celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Health Services Academy in collaboration with Save the Children in Pakistan demanded the assurance of the government for children’s right to survival at an advocacy seminar on 19 November. The seminar aimed to familiarize students of the Health Services Academy, the federal training institute for public health professionals, on the importance of breastfeeding and its relation to children’s Right to Survival (CRC Article 6).

The participants of the advocacy seminar were explained how exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are key, low cost interventions for improving child survival. It was highlighted that Pakistan has the highest bottle-feeding rates and lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in South Asia. According to the Pakistan Demographic Health Survey, the percentage of exclusively breast-fed children has risen only from 37.1 per cent in 2006-07 to 37.7 per cent in 2012-13. However, bottle-feeding rates have risen from an already undesirable 32.1 per cent in 2006-07 to 41 per cent in 2012-13.

The findings of Save the Children’s report on breastfeeding and violations of the International Code of Marketing Breast-milk Substitutes by substitute milk producers were also presented. Along with the findings of The Network for Consumer Protection’s labelling compliance report which evaluated violations of the Pakistan Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Rules 2009 (formed for the Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2002) by breast milk substitute companies on their products, and in advertisements and promotional material.

The seminar was interactive with participants asking questions such as about what actions were taken by the national Infant Feeding Board as a follow up to the findings of The Network’s labeling compliance report; which revealed that due to the devolution of the federal health ministry and the subject of health to the provinces in 2010, no action could be taken against violating breast milk substitute companies. Additionally, participants vocalized the important role fathers can play and acknowledged the need to advocate within families to promote exclusive breastfeeding, and good Infant and Young Child Feeding practices.

Concluding the seminar, a documentary ‘Is it not my right’ produced by the EVERY ONE campaign team was screened which highlighted the myths around breastfeeding and present views of different stakeholders on its importance. Followed by the documentary, participants were engaged in a group activity to discuss ways to promote strategies and best practices to effectively advocacy breastfeeding among communities.

Save the Children offices around the world are celebrating 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child by calling on their governments to see children’s rights through their eyes. Save the Children has developed this infographic that highlights key facts, statistics and our call to action.

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