24 July 2020

Call to Action

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, only 44 per cent of children under six months of age are fed only breastmilk. UNICEF and WHO are leading a Global Breastfeeding Collective to increase political commitment for breastfeeding—one of the smartest investments a country can make. The initiative aims to increase early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, together with appropriate, adequate and safe complementary foods. We call upon implementers and donors from governments, philanthropies, international organizations, civil society to:    Increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years           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. Enact paid 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.             Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breastmilk for sick and vulnerable newborns.               Improve access to skilled breastfeeding counselling as part of comprehensive breastfeeding policies and programmes in health facilities.           Strengthen links between health facilities and communities, and encourage community networks that protect, promote, and support breastfeeding. Strengthen monitoring systems that track the progress of policies, programmes, and funding towards achieving both national and global breastfeeding targets.