World Breastfeeding Week and Breastfeeding month: Highlights from Fiocruz and LAC on the topic
Breast milk is the most recommended food in the first six months of a human's life. Breastfeeding is considered a natural form of feeding, essential for the health of babies, with positive long-term impacts on both the mother's and children's health.
In 2023, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) campaign is: "Enabling Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents." This campaign takes place in over 170 countries worldwide, including countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) such as Brazil. This year, the focus is promoting awareness among managers and companies about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life, showing that this goal extends not only to the mother and father but also to the community they interact with.
The first week of August, from 1st to 7th, is considered World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), an initiative by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and partners. In Brazil, since 2017, the week has been extended to the entire month of August, known as "Breastfeeding Month" or "Golden August."
In the Americas region, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) conducts an extensive campaign and gathers data on the topic in a specific section of its website. According to PAHO, only 43% of babies are exclusively breastfed in LAC, and only 65% of countries offer less than 14 weeks of maternity leave. Another relevant data point is that only 19 out of the 35 member countries in the Americas have legal measures in place to partially or fully implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.
In order to raise awareness for this issue, in 2023, WABA emphasizes the positive impact of paid leave for mothers and fathers for at least the first six months of a baby's life, as well as the importance of workplace support for breastfeeding continuation up to two years. Another key message is that all working mothers need the right to adequate maternity leave if they wish to practice optimal breastfeeding. They should receive proper breaks, workplace facilities for breastfeeding support, and the ability to store breast milk.
To make the most of this occasion and highlight World Breastfeeding Week, here are five related events happening this year.
Global Network of Human Milk Banks
The first is the launch of the Fiocruz Certification Program for Human Milk Banks at Fiocruz during WBW. According to the Fernandes Figueira National Institute of Women, Children, and Adolescents' Health (IFF/Fiocruz), this program aims to assess the level of compliance of Human Milk Banks to ensure quality in their actions.
The program has six main axes: human resources certification; information certification; equipment certification; facility certification; process certification; and product certification. The idea of the program is to certify Human Milk Banks according to the Foundation's criteria. For more details, visit the Global Network of Human Milk Banks (rBLH) portal.
rBLH is a network coordinated by Fiocruz with support from IFF and the Institute of Communication and Scientific and Technological Information in Health (Icict/Fiocruz). Mothers and families, health units, health professionals and/or students and researchers can participate in the network.Check here how to participate of rBLH (only in Portuguese),
Lacta Hub by TGHN
The second is the LactaHub community, a space within The Global Health Network (TGHN) that aims to connect health professionals, decision-makers, and researchers working in the field of breastfeeding and breast milk. The community also hosts a webinar on the topic called "LactaWebinar on the challenges of breastfeeding for working mothers and their families in different workplaces" starting at 11 am Brasília time, with representatives from Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. Register for the LactaHub breastfeeding webinar here.
Additionally, it offers international training for health professionals produced by Rush University Medical Center to support the implementation of breastfeeding practices in babies in intensive care units around the world. The content is available in English and Spanish. The training is called PROVIDE and focuses on providing breast milk in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Learn more about the training here.
PAHO Webinar on Breastfeeding and Work
The fourth highlight on the topic is a webinar also taking place on August 3rd, promoted by PAHO, called "Supporting Breastfeeding: Making a Difference for Working Mothers and Fathers," in a virtual format and available in Portuguese, Spanish, and English, starting at 12 pm Brasília time, with registrations here. For more information about the webinar, visit the PAHO website.
IFF/Fiocruz Dysphagia Course on the Virtual Campus and the Global Health Training Centre
Finally, with a theme related to breastfeeding, the highlight is a course on dysphagia in at-risk newborns available for free access on the Fiocruz Virtual Campus (in Portuguese) and on The Global Health Training Centre (in Spanish and in English) called "Phonological Attention: Oral Sensorimotor Disorders in Neonatology" focusing on speech therapists and health professionals interested in the topic.
Dysphagia is characterized by difficulty swallowing, which can hinder the breastfeeding process. This dysfunction can be caused by premature birth or abnormalities in the anatomy of the newborn.