This week is World Breastfeeding Week 2022. Breastfeeding plays and important role in managing the double burden of malnutrition. Breastfeeding provides food security and reduces inequalities. This breastfeeding week focuses upon rebuilding essential pre-pandemic support systems.
It takes a village to raise a child. Parents face a multitude of challenges in providing the best care for their child, during the antenatal, labour and delivery, as well as postnatal periods.
Ongoing care for the child is also vital in ensuring both mothers and babies are properly supported. Supporting breastfeeding involves many actors at different levels. Women need support from the health service, workplace and community to optimally breastfeed, progressing from one level to the other. This is called the Warm Chain of Support for Breastfeeding.
Every year, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) coordinates the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) – a global campaign that aims to inform, anchor, engage and galvanise action on breastfeeding and related issues. Although progress has been achieved, the work to protect, promote and support breastfeeding became more of a challenge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts, which widened and deepened inequalities, tipping more people into food insecurity. In addition, limitations to the health system’s capacity led to deterioration of breastfeeding support, and targeted outreach by the breastmilk substitutes (BMS) industry continues to negatively influence parents’ infant feeding decisions.
Against this background, the focus of World Breastfeeding Week this year (#WBW2022) is on education and support, so that we can all step up for breastfeeding! Governments, healthcare actors, community actors and society at large must advocate to normalise breastfeeding and create breastfeeding-friendly environments. The #WBW2022 campaign reminds us that we all have a role to play in the education and transformation of existing systems, underpinned by evidence-based national policies to create breastfeeding-friendly health facilities, supportive communities and workplaces. Let’s step up for breastfeeding!