The 2016 World Breastfeeding Week started on August 1 with the theme “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development.” It shares with us why breastfeeding is very important for sustainable development and especially raised awareness on the links between breastfeeding and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a set of 17 goals adopted by world leaders in September 2015 and aimed aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all by 2030. These set goals which you can view broadly here is meant for everyone to play a part in achieving the sustainable development target.
According to the message from WHO and UNICEF, it has become increasingly clear that breastfeeding is not just the cornerstone for a child’s healthy development, but as well the foundation of a country’s development. Therefore supporting breastfeeding is one of the smartest investments that a country can make and looking at how it links with the SDG goals will certainly make us appreciate it better.
Breastfeeding & Putting an end to hunger, improving nutrition and promoting health and wellbeing (SDG 2 & 3)
- Breastfeeding is the most natural and cost-effective way of providing your baby with nutrients that they will need for healthy growth and development.
- It is an important source of nutrition that can save children’s lives thereby reducing infant mortality.
- The long term health of the child can be improved by breastfeeding and the risk of non-communicable diseases as well as childhood asthma and obesity are reduced.
- Also, the mother’s health and wellbeing is protected as longer breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Breastfeeding & Educational achievement, promoting lifelong learning opportunities (SDG 4)
- Breastfeeding is an essential part of a healthy childhood that can contribute to educational attainment and help in achieving global learning targets.
- Breastfeeding has been associated with higher IQs, cognitive ability and learning.
- This association could be translated to an increase in productivity and also higher earnings later in life.
Breastfeeding & Gender Equality (SDG 5)
- Breastfeeding is one effective way to promote child spacing, enabling mothers to delay subsequent pregnancy.
- It hereby helps mothers in achieving gender equality by returning to work, school or advancing their chosen career.
- Breastfeeding can be linked to proposing for favorable workplace rights and support for mums returning to work after childbirth.
Breastfeeding and Ensuring sustainable consumption & production (SDG 12)
- Breast milk is natural and does not require any industry for its production.
- It meets the needs of the present without any compromise to future generational needs.
- It is sustainable and environmentally friendly.
According to research, enough has not been done to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. Individuals, government, companies and corporate organisations, as well as agencies all have a part to play by:
- Providing good information and support to mothers on breastfeeding. Trainings and leaflets on the proper way to breastfeed with optimal output should be put out by the government ministries and agencies.
- Equality rights for women and mums can be met by companies and organisations providing an environment that will promote and support breastfeeding.
- Baby-friendly spaces should be provided in public places and people should respect the right of a child to be breastfeed when hungry.
- The Federal Government should work at ensuring constant power supply. Not only does it boost economic development but it also helps in ensuring a 24/7 breast milk supply for babies (breast milk can last for 6 months in the freezer). Mothers can return to work whilst there is breast milk for the baby at home.
- Also with good power supply, breast milk banks can be introduced where mums can donate breast milk to help save lives of babies in neonatal intensive cares.
The 2016 World Breastfeeding Week has recognised that breastfeeding is actually an important factor in attaining sustainable development and if we all can also recognise this, it will make us value our well-being from the start of life, respect one another and as well care for the world we share.