Breastfeeding trends show that most developing countries could miss global nutrition goals

Breastfeeding trends show that most developing countries could miss global nutrition goals

1970-01-01T05: 30: 00 + 0530

From Dr. Dickson Amugsi, African Population and Health Research Center

Nairobi, Kenya, Sept. 19 (The Conversation) Exclusive breastfeeding, the practice of giving only breast milk (no other food or water), is ideal for the first six months of an infant. Breast milk contains all the important nutrients that an infant needs at this stage.

Research has highlighted the long-term health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for both mother and child. These benefits include reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence and certain NCDs later in life and improving human capital in adulthood. In addition, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure in mothers.

These are just a few of the benefits of breastfeeding only. Overall, it makes more of an impact on a baby’s health and survival than any other intervention. It is for this reason that the World Health Organization (WHO) included it as a best protection measure in the Global Plan of Action on Pneumonia and Diarrhea.

The WHO originally set a global target of 50% exclusive breastfeeding prevalence by 2025. It was recently updated to a prevalence of at least 70% by 2030. This means that each member country is expected to reach a prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding of at least 70% by the end of 2030.

However, previous research has shown that the proportion of exclusively breastfed children remains low in many low and middle income countries.

As part of the Global Burden of Disease study, my colleagues and I recently published our analysis of data from 94 low and middle income countries over two decades (2000-2018). We examined the trends and prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding and forecast countries’ performance against the WHO goals. This type of analysis can help countries formulate the strategies and interventions necessary to promote breastfeeding practices.

Findings from our study

The overall prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding increased in all countries (27% to 39%) during the study period (2000-2018). However, we found significant differences between countries and within regions. This indicates intraregional inequalities that managers need to be aware of.

The countries included in the study made significant progress. For example, 57 of the 94 countries had an aggregate share of exclusive breastfeeding of less than 30% in half of their basic administrative units (referred to as provinces in this study) in 2000 countries (8) rose to 50%, with at least in most provinces 45% are exclusively breastfeeding. Similarly, by the end of 2018, at least one province in 34 countries had increased the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding by more than 45%.

Of the African countries, Chad and Somalia showed the highest annual rates of decline in exclusive breastfeeding practices during the study period.

Progress towards the 70% target

To estimate future prevalence, we assumed that current trends would continue. We initially forecast based on the original target of 25% by 2025, followed by the updated target of at least 70% by 2030. In general, exclusive breastfeeding practices in countries are expected to drop from 39% in 2018 to 43% Will increase in 2025 The practical share will increase to 45% by the end of the new target period in 2030.

According to our analysis, six countries – Burundi, Cambodia, Lesotho, Peru, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone – will reach 70% of the exclusive breastfeeding prevalence by 2030. Eighty-eight out of 94 countries are unlikely to meet the global nutrition target for exclusive breastfeeding by 2030. Only three countries (Burundi, Lesotho and Rwanda) are expected to achieve this goal in all of their sub-national units (provinces and districts).

Reasons for low rates of exclusive breastfeeding

Several reasons may be responsible for countries’ poor performance in achieving the goal. They include, but are not limited to:

– manipulative marketing or promotion of breast milk substitutes

-A lack of support in the workplace for optimal breastfeeding practices

– lack of participation in prenatal care

– Lack of qualified breastfeeding support or breastfeeding advice in health facilities

-social or cultural beliefs that favor mixed feeding.

Keep it up

Breastfeeding requires a great deal of effort from mothers and the support of wider networks, including their families, communities, workplaces, health systems, and governance.

Advocacy at global, national and subnational levels is vital and needs to be pursued by national and subnational governments. For example, the global breastfeeding advocacy toolkit outlines seven key policy measures to improve breastfeeding practices. These include:

-Increase in funding to support exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding up to 2 years

-full adoption and supervision of the International Code for the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes

-Adoption of breastfeeding guidelines in the workplace and paid family leave

-Implementing the ten baby-friendly hospitals steps to successful breastfeeding

-Improving access to qualified breastfeeding advice in health facilities

– Strengthening links between health facilities and communities in support of breastfeeding

-Strengthen monitoring systems to keep track of progress.

These documented strategies can help policy makers monitor the success of breastfeeding policies and program investments.

In conclusion, our study found that only six of the 94 low and middle income countries are on track to meet the WHO target of at least 70% exclusive breastfeeding prevalence by 2030. This means that 94% of the countries included in our study are unlikely to achieve the goal. This predicted poor performance requires conscious efforts to encourage exclusive breastfeeding to improve the child’s health and well-being. Robust policy interventions could still allow some of these low- and middle-income states to meet the target by 2030. (The Conversation) NSA

Disclaimer: – This story was not edited by Outlook staff and is automatically generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI