WHO and UNICEF jointly developed the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding to focus global attention to the impact that feeding practices have on the nutritional status, growth and development, health, and thus the very survival of infants and young children.
The Global Strategy is based on the evident importance of nutrition in the early months and years of life, and of the crucial role that appropriate feeding practices play in achieving optimal health outcomes. The lack of breastfeeding – and especially, the lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life – is an important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality, compounded by inappropriate complementary feeding. The life-long impact includes poor school performance, reduced productivity and impaired intellectual and social development.
The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding aims to revitalise efforts to promote, protect and support appropriate infant and young child feeding. It builds upon past initiatives, in particular, the Innocenti Declaration and the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances, such as infants of mothers living with HIV, low-birth-weight infants and infants in emergency situations.
The strategy calls for the following:
The strategy sets out roles and responsibilities of governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and other concerned parties. It engages all relevant stakeholders and provides a framework for accelerated action, linking relevant intervention areas and using resources available in a variety of sectors.
It is now time for everyone concerned – governments as well as all other innumerable actors – to move swiftly and deliberately to give tangible effect to the Strategy’s aim and practical objectives. There can be no delay in jointly applying knowledge and experience to help make our world a truly fit environment where all children can thrive and achieve their full potential.