Breast Milk Acts As Baby’s First Vaccine

Experts have called on mothers to breastfeed their babies immediately after birth, saying that breast milk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protect them from potentially deadly diseases and ensure their optimum development and survival.
This charged was contained in the Global Breastfeeding Scorecard which was released at the start of World Breastfeeding Week alongside a new analysis and was made available to INDEPENDENT by Geoffrey Njoku Communication Officer, UNICEF Nigeria.
Corroborating this Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, “Breastfeeding gives babies the best possible start in life.”
“Breast milk works like a baby’s first vaccine, protecting infants from potentially deadly diseases and giving them all the nourishment they need to survive and thrive.”
The scorecard report also showed that an annual investment of only US$4.70 per newborn is required to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding among children under six months to 50 per cent by 2025.
Nigeria is among five countries in the world where lack of investment in breastfeeding resulted in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.
The lack of investment case occurred in five of the world’s largest emerging economies – China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria, according to a new report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective, a new initiative to increase global breastfeeding rates.
New analysis shows an investment of US$4.70 per newborn could generate US$300 billion in economic gains by 2025.
No country in the world fully meets recommended standards for breastfeeding, according to the report.
The Global Breastfeeding Scorecard, which evaluated 194 nations, found that only 40 per cent of children younger than six months are breastfed exclusively (given nothing but breast milk) and only 23 countries have exclusive breastfeeding rates above 60 per cent.
Evidence shows that breastfeeding has cognitive and health benefits for both infants and their mothers. It is especially critical during the first six months of life, helping prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants. Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer, two leading causes of death among women.
Also, the report titled; ‘Nurturing the Health and Wealth of Nations: The Investment Case for Breastfeeding,’ suggests that meeting this target could save the lives of 520,000 children under the age of five.
It added that the investment potentially generates US$300 billion in economic gains over 10 years, as a result of reduced illness and health care costs and increased productivity.
“Breastfeeding is one of the most effective – and cost effective – investments nations can make in the health of their youngest members and the future health of their economies and societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.
“By failing to invest in breastfeeding, we are failing mothers and their babies – and paying a double price: in lost lives and in lost opportunity.”
The investment case shows that in five of the world’s largest emerging economies – China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Nigeria – the lack of investment in breastfeeding results in an estimated 236,000 child deaths per year and US$119 billion in economic losses.
Globally, investment in breastfeeding is far too low. Each year, governments in lower- and middle-income countries spend approximately US$250 million on breastfeeding programs; and donors provide only an additional US$85 million.
The Global Breastfeeding Collective therefore called on countries to increase funding to raise breastfeeding rates from birth through two years.
It also called for full implementation of  the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions through strong legal measures that are enforced and independently monitored by organizations free from conflicts of interest.
It further said; “Enact paid family leave and workplace breastfeeding policies, building on the International Labour Organisation’s maternity protection guidelines as a minimum requirement, including provisions for the informal sector.
Others are; “Implement the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding in maternity facilities, including providing breast milk for sick and vulnerable newborns.”


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