The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) have affirmed that breastfeeding is a critical key in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
A joint statement by UNICEF and WHO said “achieving SDG 2 and SDG 3, SDG 4, which include ending hunger, improving nutrition and promoting health and wellbeing, education and lifelong learning” would be easy if links between investing in breastfeeding and SDGs were strengthened.
“Breastfeeding is one of the keys to reducing under-five mortality increasing rates of breastfeeding to target levels could save the lives of 820,000 children under-five – 87 percent of them infants six months old and younger, every year. This represents around 13 percent of all under-five child deathsn annualy,” stated Mr. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director and Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO.
According to them, breastfeeding improves long term health; decreases the risk of non-communicable diseases like childhood asthma and obesity; reduces chances of diabetes and heart diseases. “Longer duration of breastfeeding protects maternal health, helping reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”
The statement further explained that “improved outcomes in health and learning in turn support the achievement of SDG 1, 8 and 10, which concern ending poverty, promoting economic,” etc.
At a Media briefing, which held at the UNICEF Sokoto Field Office, the Fund stated that while “Early initiation of breastfeeding has significant impact on reducing overall neonatal mortality by 20 percent, non-breastfed child is 14 times more likely to die from all causes; 10 times more likely to die from diarrhea and 2.5 times more likely to die from ARI.”
The briefing identified the negative factors that influence mother’s feeding practices to include the discarding of colostrum believed to be harmful to children; delay by mothers to initiate breastfeeding by two to three days and the belief that since water is life, it should be the first thing to give a baby after delivery.
Explaining that “Breast milk is the best for your baby” because it contains “1.5 percent protein, 60:40 ratio of lactalbumin:castein, 15 mg of sodium, 15 mg of phosphorus, 30 mg of calcium and 0.5 mg of iron,” UNICEF also quoted a breastfeeding guide as stating that “breast milk is composed of “88.1 percent of water, 7 percent lactose, 3.8 percent fat, 0.9 percent protein and 0.2 percent of other minerals.”
By, Abdallah el-Kurebe