- According to a new breastfeeding assessment report published recently, around 6 out of 10 babies born in India are not able to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
2. The report was compiled by a consortium of public health groups and agencies including government departments, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and UNICEF under the aegis of World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative and the Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI).
3. The report which cites the data from NFHS-4 revealed the following facts:
- India ranks 78 out of 97 nations when it comes to breastfeeding support services.
- Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth is 41.5%
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is 54.9
- Inclusion of complementary feeding between 6-8 months is 42.7% and adequate complementary feeding and minimum acceptable diet among 6-23 months children is as low as 9.6%
- India has made some progress over the years; early initiation of breastfeeding has improved from 23.4% to 41.5% children breastfed within one hour of birth.
- According to the 5th Report of Assessment of India’s Policy and Programmes on Breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding in 2018, India score 45 out of 100 on 10 parameters under the category of policy and programmes.
- However, India performs better in terms of infant and young child feeding practices scoring 34 out of 50 on five parameters.
- Countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are making remarkable progress on policy scores and have increased breastfeeding rates.
- Bangladesh, with a population of 16 crores allocated 13 million dollars for a 5 year plan on infant and young child feeding recently.
- India is lagging behind on most of the indicators.
4. However, this has not kept pace with the stark increase in institutional deliveries which more than doubled during the same period, from 38.7% to 78.9%.
5. Report cites the following reasons for not able to begin breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
- Lack of supportive work environment
- Inadequate skills of health care providers.
- Caesarean deliveries.
6. According to the report mothers breastfeeding within one hour of birth is important because:
- It ensures that the infant receives the colostrums or fist milk, which is rich in protective factors.
- The WHO and UNICEF also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to the age of six months and thereafter complementary food with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.