New York Times Columnist, ‘Win-A-Trip’ Student Reflect On Breastfeeding In Mali
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is in Mali for his annual win-a-trip journey, during which he travels with a university student to report on global poverty issues. The following is a summary of an opinion piece from Kristof and an “On the Ground” blog post from Erin Luhmann, this year’s winner, on their experience in a nomadic settlement just outside the city of Mopti, Mali, where they witnessed the treatment of a malnourished infant.
- Nicholas Kristof: “Can you name a miracle food that is universally available, free and can save children’s lives and maybe even make them smarter?” Kristoff asks, and writes, “There really is such a substance, now routinely squandered, that global health experts believe could save more than 800,000 lives annually” — breast milk. “The latest nutritional survey from The Lancet estimates that suboptimal breastfeeding claims the lives of 804,000 children annually,” he notes, adding, “In some parts of the world, a problem has been predatory marketing by formula manufacturers, but, in the poorest countries, the main concern is that moms delay breastfeeding for a day or two after birth and then give babies water or food in the first six months.” He concludes, “[M]aybe in our sophistication we’ve overlooked a way to ease childhood malnutrition that is sustainable, scalable, free — and so straightforward that all hungry newborns cry for it” (7/10).
- Erin Luhmann: “It seems counterintuitive that a mother would not be able to properly breastfeed her newborn. Yet this is a challenge that women continue to face in many parts of the world — including the United States,” Luhmann writes, and describes her experience of witnessing the treatment of a malnourished infant “[b]y simply correcting the way [the mother] held her baby to her breast.” She continues, “But I wonder if mental health issues like postpartum depression might also be playing a role in cases like this. Mental health may not top donor agendas, but it seems to me that the compounding stress of malnutrition and poverty could take a hidden toll on young mothers” (7/10).
The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.