Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative: A Call to Action

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Breastfeeding gives all children the healthiest start in life. Breastmilk acts as a baby’s first vaccine, stimulates brain development, and protects a woman’s health. When mothers breastfeed, everyone benefits. Breastfeeding leads to lower health care costs, healthier families, and a smarter workforce. Yet, fewer than 40% of children under six months of age are fed only breastmilk.

UNICEF and WHO are leading a global Breastfeeding Advocacy Initiative to increase political commitment for breastfeeding—one of the smartest investments a country can make.

We call upon governments, donors and development partners to:

  1. Increase funding to reach the 2025 World Health global target: raise the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months to at least 50 per cent.
  2. Fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions through strong legal measures that are enforced and independently monitored by organizations free from conflicts of interest.
  3. Enact family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies, building on the International Labour Organization’s maternity protection guidelines as a minimum requirement, including provisions for the informal sector.
  4. Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breastmilk for sick and vulnerable newborns.
  5. Improve access to skilled lactation counselling as part of comprehensive breastfeeding policies and programmes in health facilities.
  6. Strengthen links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding.
  7. Create monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes, and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets.

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