WHA 64: Common statement of ILCA and CI on the review of the MDGs

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Health-related Millennium Development Goals: WHO’s role in the follow-up to the high-level plenary meeting of the sixty-fifth session of the United Nations General Assembly on the review of the Millennium Devleopment Goals. (September 2010)

Documents A64/11, A64/11 Add.1 and EB128/2011/REC/1, resolution EB128.R1


Statement by Maryse Arendt, on behalf of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA)  and Consumers International (CI)


Chairperson, Director General, honourable delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for letting me address the 64th Session of the WHA. We appreciate the opportunity to speak on behalf of the International Lactation Consultants Association, an organisation of health care professionals protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding  and  on behalf of Consumers International, the global federation of consumer organisations worldwide, and a founding member of IBFAN.

 At the 31st annual session of the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition in 2005, the Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding working group presented an analysis showing the important contribution the early and exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding with complementary feeding provide to all MDGs.

We congratulate the decision makers and actors in the field for delivering antenatal care to increasing number of pregnant women. We want to underline the proven importance of prenatal breastfeeding information, free from commercial interests, for the success of breastfeeding and we demand that prenatal breastfeeding information and education become a core element of antenatal visits in the health system.

The 2003, 2005 and 2008 Lancet series on Neonatal, Child and Maternal Survival underscored that interventions related to improved early, exclusive and continued breastfeeding are cost-effective and have an important impact on health and poverty reduction. In the countdown to 2015 decade report (2000-2015) exclusive breastfeeding was recognized as a major contributor to child survival. The report underlines that improving infant and young child feeding practices will save lives and that available evidence demonstrates that child growth and development are optimized when breastfeeding is initiated within one hour after birth and with exclusive breastfeeding being continued up to the age of six months. Continued breastfeeding with complementary feeding with safe and age-appropriate food started at six months is another important contribution to child health. Some countries are progressing in these areas but most countries have much room for improvement.

The 2009 World Bank study identified breastfeeding as one of the 13 evidence based direct interventions to prevent and treat undernutrition and the Secretary General’s 2010  Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health highlighted the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for meeting the MGD 4 and 5. How much more evidence is needed to persuade the international community to finally include breastfeeding data on the list of the indicators for tracking the MDG progress? 

We urge WHO and its Member States to ensure inclusion of these indicators in order for this essential public health practice to become a norm. And given the gap between the health related MDGs and the reality in many countries, we believe that the UN agencies and donor countries have a responsibility to step up their financial and technical support for training of health workers and for breastfeeding support, promotion and protection. 

Thank you for your attention.