First week of August is marked as World Breastfeeding Week (WBFW) and celebrated in more than 170 countries around the world, including Uzbekistan.
The theme of this year’s WBFW is “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life”.
Breastfeeding can offer a fair start in life for every child. This positive practice significantly improves the health, development and wellbeing of infants and children as well as mothers, both in the short- and long-term.
Breastfeeding reduces child mortality and has health benefits that extend into adulthood. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life is the recommended way of feeding infants, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.
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 diarrhea and pneumonia, two major causes of death in infants globally.
Breast milk is the child’s first vaccine. It produces the antibodies in a child’s body. It is the foundation of good nutrition. Along with timely vaccination as per recommended immunization schedule, breastfeeding is effective way to protect children against disease.
Breastfeeding also nurtures national economies. The benefits of breastfeeding for children and their mothers have the power to improve a country’s prosperity with lower health care costs and stronger, more able workforces. Every US$1 invested in breastfeeding generates an estimated US$35 in economic returns for countries.
In Uzbekistan, according to official data, rate of children who are exclusively breastfed for up to 6 months was 61.76% in 2017. The highest rate was in Bukhara and Karakalpakstan – 91% and 88.54% accordingly. The lowest percentage was in the capital, Tashkent city – 41.83%.
UNICEF supports the Government of Uzbekistan in improving nutrition status of women and children. In 2017, Ministry of Health and UNICEF conducted the first ever national nutrition survey, which helped collect and analyze data on the micronutrient deficiencies as well as nutrition practices of women of reproductive age, and feeding practices of infants and young children. This data will be used to make informed decisions for improving the nutrition status of the population, including most disadvantaged.