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World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7: 'Breastfeeding in a globalised world': breastfeeding in a globalised world brings both challenges and opportunities for breast-feeding advocates, to act locally and think globally.

'Breastfeeding is about peace and justice. It is the natural, universal and peaceful way of nurturing our children. In a world often racked by injustice, violence and war, breastfeeding can be a sentinel of peace--inner peace, peace with other people and peace with the environment.'

Anwar Fazal, Co-founder of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)

World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is the greatest outreach vehicle for the breast feeding movement, and is celebrated in over 120 countries. Officially it is celebrated on 1-7 August. However, many supporters choose other dates to make it a more appropriate and successful event in their countries. Midwives are among the most important professional groups to contribute to this celebration and promotion, as they have the opportunity both to educate women before birth about the benefits of breastfeeding, and to support and encourage them after the baby is born.

This year's WBW theme

Globalisation is a manifold and sometimes even an elusive concept--it has been defined as the intensification of worldwide social relations which rink distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events many miles away and vice versa. The result of this interconnectedness of globalisation can have both positive and negative impacts on breast feeding.

The current trend of globalisation is predominantly based on structuring a single global economy powered by transnational corporations and financial markets. Increasingly, globalisation is shaping a world where trade agreements, world trade organisation priorities and the economic interests of transnational corporations hold sway and are no longer accountable to governments, let alone the needs of mothers and children.

Breastfeeding advocates, including midwives, need to use the mechanisms available to them through globalisation to bring people together, find positive ways to address the challenges of globalisation and create viable solutions. Working together, and harnessing the power of new communication and network technology,, members of the global breastfeeding movement can have a positive impact on the structures and on individuals--both internationally and within local communities--that influence and enable women to breastfeed and to provide optimal care for their children.

Breastfeeding partnerships at work in Niger

The following is based on a report taken from the UNICEF website, www.unicef.org:

August 1, 2003: Babies are getting a healthier start in life at the 17 Portes Maternity. Hospital in Maradi, Niger's third largest city. Practice at the hospital, where 500 to 600 babies are born each month, is to encourage mothers to begin breastfeeding their newborns 30 minutes after delivery. The 17 Portes Maternity Hospital is one of 20 medical facilities in Niger to receive the Baby-Friendly Hospital designation.

In 1991, UNICEF and file World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage maternity clinics and hospitals to support breastfeeding. In areas where hospitals have achieved baby-friendlystares, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants and child health is improving as a result.

Bintou Dembo, head nurse in the clinic, explains that 'Traditionally, the Hausa people have taught that colostrum is bad, they throw it away, ... in its place, newborns are given goat's milk. They only begin drinking the mother's milk on the third day after birth. We teach mothers that their first milk is the best milk, and we also encourage them to give their babies only breastmilk for the first six months. Hausa women tend to give their babies water or tea thinking these fluids are good for them, especially ha Niger's heat. But these other liquids fill the babies' stomachs and make them want to breastfeed less. As a result, babies don't receive the nourishment they need.'

Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. Dembo and others working as midwives and nurses in both hospital and community, mothers in Maradi are hearing the message of exclusive breastfeeding and putting it into practice. They are leaving behind the old Hausa tradition of throwing away the mothers' first milk. In its place, they are starting a new tradition of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of their babies' lives, and they are seeing improvements in their children's health--crucial for a mother in Niger, where the under-five mortality rate is the second highest in the world.
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Publication:International Midwifery
Geographic Code:00WOR
Date:Jul 1, 2003
Words:697
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