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Encouraging Mothers In India To Breastfeed Requires Combined Efforts Of Family, Community, Health Workers

Times of India: Six months, two thousand feeds: It is essential to recognize that breastfeeding is not only the mother’s responsibility
Alok Ranjan, India’s country lead for nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…In India, analysis of breastfeeding trends shows that, over the last decade, the percentage of infants (under six months of age) who were exclusively breastfed in India increased … The national average, however, conceals variability across states — the rate in Bihar, for instance, has gone up, but it has fallen in neighboring Uttar Pradesh. One of the ways to increase exclusive breastfeeding, and help reduce infant mortality, is to create an enabling environment for the mothers. It is essential to recognize the fact that breastfeeding is not only the mother’s responsibility. A combined effort is required from the family, the community, Anganwadi workers, Asha workers [– types of community health workers –] and the medical staff in government and private hospitals. … [I]nfant nutrition needs to become a jan andolan [or mass movement], with district-specific action plans and strong monitoring and supervision. Only with successful implementation can we ensure that future generations are healthy and productive” (8/4).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.