UNICEF and NHC jointly promote infant and young child feeding
World Breastfeeding Week 2021 celebrated in Beijing
BEIJING, 27 July 2021 — To help give girls and boys the best start in life, and in celebration of World Breastfeeding Week 2021 (1-7 August), UNICEF is supporting the National Health Commission (NHC) of China to promote feeding practices for infants and young children.
With the theme of Protecting Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility, the World Breastfeeding Week celebration was held today in Beijing. Officials and specialists from the NHC, UNICEF, government agencies and public institutions joined the event.
In a keynote speech Dr. Douglas Noble, Acting Representative of UNICEF China, highlighted the importance of promoting breastfeeding, which is vital to a child’s nutrition, health and well-being. “Girls and boys have a right to the best possible start in life. Global evidence has shown many benefits of breastfeeding including that breastfed babies have less sickness, grow better and stronger, and are healthier”, he said.
In China, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding of infants under 6 months old is still falling behind the 50 per cent target set by the Chinese government. Challenges continue to discourage women from breastfeeding, including aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes, unscientific information, and a lack of access to high quality infant and young child feeding counselling. Tackling these challenges is a shared responsibility that requires all sectors to act, but the initial response should come from the health sector.
A highlight of the event was the debut presentation of Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling - A Training Curriculum and Practical Guide for Community Health Workers, a publication jointly developed by the Maternal and Child Health Department of the National Health Commission and UNICEF China.
The publication is a localized version of a community-based IYCF counselling guideline developed by UNICEF and adopted by more than 90 countries. It aims to build the counselling skills of primary health professionals by training them with the correct messages and clear instructions. With enhanced capacity, the plan is that these health professionals will provide quality feeding counselling services to parents and caregivers of millions of infants across the country, including those in ethnic minority regions and other vulnerable communities.
The training curriculum will be scaled up in China to strengthen the counselling capacity of primary health workers on breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding practices for children under 2 years old. The IYCF Counselling Training Program “aims to cover an estimated 140,000 primary health professionals from 22 Chinese provinces by 2023”, said Dr. Noble.
The IYCF counselling training sets clear and scientific standards for breastfeeding practices, aiming to help more children reach their full developmental potential.
More information on the IYCF counselling package can be found here.
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