New Delhi: “Breastfeeding is the most natural and cost effective intervention and should be promoted at all levels. This is an enormous resource that every child has access to. It is our job and our privilege to promote the world’s most effective investment for human development.”
This was stated by J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at a launch of MAA (Mothers Absolute Affection), a flagship programme for promotion of breastfeeding, here today. Louis George Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to India and Madhuri Dixit, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate were also present at the occasion, along with others.
J P Nadda highlighted the life cycle approach of the Ministry and said that a Continuum of care approach has been adopted by the Ministry with the articulation of ‘Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A), bringing focus on all the life stages. The Health Minister further added that we must appreciate that breastfeeding is a child’s first inoculation against death, disease and poverty and according to the latest scientific evidence, breastfeeding is our most enduring investment in physical, cognitive and social capacity development.
Addressing the gathering, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that awareness is the key among people and we have to work on dispelling myths and misconceptions. Faggan Singh Kulaste further added that breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and the interaction between the mother and child during breastfeeding has positive impact for life, in terms of stimulation, behaviour, speech, sense of well-being, security and how the child relates to other people.
Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, stated that Breastfeeding is central to improving child survival. Poor breastfeeding practices contribute to about 13% of child deaths. Smt. Anupriya Patel further added that the Ministry is launching MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection'’ to create an enabling environment to ensure that mothers, husbands and families receive adequate information and support to promote breastfeeding practices.
Madhuri Dixit, laid emphasis on Mothers milk in ensuring the survival of the child. The actor and mother of two healthy children, said, “Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth and thereafter exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months are essential for the wellness of the child.” She further added that awareness should be generated to promote breastfeeding. The simple act of breastfeeding can ensure our children have the right nutrients to start their life”
Highlighting the importance of this initiative, C K Mishra, Secretary (Health) said that there is hardly any difference in rates of breastfeeding among rural and urban population as against the perception that rural area might have higher rates of breastfeeding due to traditional practices. This implies that need for support regarding breastfeeding is universal. The Secretary (Health) further mentioned that the MAA - the nation-wide breastfeeding promotion program, is about intensified efforts to promote, protect and support optimal breastfeeding. It builds upon the existing initiatives and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances.
“MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection'’ is a nationwide programme launched in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems. The programme has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully. The chief components of the MAA Programme are Community awareness generation, Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities, and Monitoring and Award/recognition.
Also present during the function were senior officers of the Ministry and representatives of the development partners.