Breastfeeding gives all human beings the opportunity to have a fair start in life. Breast milk is the best food and the safest option to ensure good health and growth of young children. There is strong evidence demonstrating the multiple benefits of breastfeeding for the mother, the child and society as a whole.
In the region of the Americas 54% of children start breastfeeding within the first hour of life, only 38% are breastfed exclusively until 6 months of age, and 32% continue breastfeeding for 2 years.
This year´s theme of World Breastfeeding Week, from 1 to 7 of August, is "Foundation of Life". During the celebration the Pan American Health Organization wants to call on governments to continue their efforts to strengthen measures already in place to protect, promote, and support the right to Breastfeeding.
Among these regulatory measures is the adoption and monitoring of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (Code) and subsequent relevant resolutions of the World Health Assembly, the implementation of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), the implementation of a policy on maternity rights that are in line with the Convention and Recommendation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on maternity protection, and providing advice and specialized assistance for the feeding of infants and young children.
However, these measures have not yet been scaled up at a national level and are not consistently implemented or enforced. This holds back breastfeeding rates, running the risk of countries in the region not achieving their global breastfeeding target, by 2025 (Increase the rate of breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%). It is vital to strengthen these measures in order to properly implement and monitor the Code, and thus ensure that parents and caregivers are protected from inappropriate and misleading information.