All parents want the best for their children.
Breastfeeding provides exceptional moments during which a mother develops a special bond with her child and so much more.
Breastfeeding is a vital part of giving every child the healthiest start to life. It’s the baby’s first vaccine; his/her best source of nutrition and it paves the way for healthy development of his/her brain.
The Stronger with Breastmilk Only initiative promotes giving babies breastmilk only, on demand, and stopping the practice of giving water (and other liquids and foods), from the moment of their birth through their first six months of life.
The initiative aims for West and Central Africa to achieve the global exclusive breastfeeding target of 50 per cent by 2025.
Stronger with Breastmilk Only initiative responds to the call to action of the Global Breastfeeding Collective, which gathers more than 20 international organizations that collectively advocate for increased investments and policy change to achieve the global breastfeeding goal.
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WHO and UNICEF recommend:
Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Introduction of nutritionally adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at six months together with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond.
Only four out of every 10 newborns are breastfed one hour after birth in West and Central Africa.
Only three out of 10 babies under six months are exclusively breastfed in West and Central Africa. Most breastfed babies are given other liquids and foods, in most cases water is given.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the cost of not breastfeeding is the highest in the world, with economic losses representing 2.57 per cent of GNI.
Breastfeeding is one of the best investments in global health: every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in economic returns.
Breastfeeding is an investment that not only improves children’s health and saves lives, but also develops human capital, which can benefit a country’s economy.
The scaling up of breastfeeding can prevent an estimated 823 000 child deaths and 20 000 breast cancer deaths every year.
Our warmest wishes for the New Year to everyone working across the region to increase awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding - and save the lives of mothers and children !
More than 200 stakeholders from across the region learned how the Stronger With Breastmilk Only initiative is supporting health officials to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding during webinars in French and English in early December. The webinar presented the regional initiative, including its objectives, tools and resources, and support for national programs.
Addressing the problem of exclusive breastfeeding in West and Central Africa called for a new approach – “business as usual” would not suffice, UNICEF West and Central Africa Nutrition Advisor Simeon Nanama told participants at the 11th Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day global webinar event in October. The new approach is Stronger With Breastmilk Only.