Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding
Infant and young child feeding are a cornerstone of care for childhood development. World-wide about 30% of children under five are stunted as a consequence of poor feeding and repeated infections. Even in resource poor settings, improved feeding practices can lead to improved intakes of energy and nutrients, leading to better nutritional status.
Over the past decades, the evidence of biological requirements for appropriate nutrition, recommended feeding practices and factors impeding appropriate feeding has grown steadily. Moreover, much has been learned about interventions that are effective in promoting improved feeding. For example, recent studies in Bangladesh, Brazil and Mexico have demonstrated the impact of counselling, in communities and health services, to improve feeding practices, food intake and growth.
The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding aims to revitalize efforts to promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding. It builds upon past initiatives, in particular the Innocenti Declaration and the Baby-friendly Hospital initiative and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances, such as infants of mothers living with HIV, low-birth-weight infants and infants in emergency situations.
The strategy calls for action in the following areas:
- All governments should develop and implement a comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding, in the context of national policies for nutrition, child and reproductive health, and poverty reduction.
- All mothers should have access to skilled support to initiate and sustain exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and ensure the timely introduction of adequate and safe complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years or beyond.
- Health workers should be empowered to provide effective feeding counselling, and their services be extended in the community by trained lay or peer counsellors.
- Governments should review progress in national implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes, and consider new legislation or additional measures as needed to protect families from adverse commercial influences.
- Governments should enact imaginative legislation protecting the breastfeeding rights of working women and establishing means for its enforcement in accordance with international labour standards.
The strategy specifies not only responsibilities of governments, but also of international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other concerned parties. It engages all relevant stakeholders and provides a framework for accelerated action, linking relevant intervention areas and using resources available in a variety of sectors.