26 June 2018
Following Baby Friendly supporters’ call for MPs to pledge their support for our Call to Action campaign, we’re delighted to announce that we’re now working with English, Scottish and Welsh governments on the BBF (Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly) research project.
The project will explore breastfeeding support in the UK and recommend what could be included in a national infant feeding strategy – a key ask in our Call to Action campaign.
This Yale University initiative, designed in conjunction with global breastfeeding experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO), Unicef and the Gates Foundation, helps countries assess their readiness to scale up breastfeeding support, and thus create a country-specific programme to boost and sustain their breastfeeding rates. The model offers a series of interlocking processes or “gears”:
- Political will
- Funding for programme implementation
- Pro-breastfeeding legislation and policies relating to, for example, paid maternity leave
- Training of lactation professionals
- Social marketing based on a sound understanding of a community’s unique needs
- Research and evaluation
- Inter-sectoral coordination and monitoring of ongoing programmes
The eight gears must work in harmony for large scale improvement in a country’s national breastfeeding programme:
- Evidence-based advocacy generates political will to enact policies and legislation that are needed to ensure healthy breastfeeding practices
- This generates the necessary resources to encourage workforce training and programme delivery, as well as promotion through media outlets
- Research and evaluations are conducted to maintain the quality and success of the programmes
- A coordinating master gear keeps the multi-sectoral programme(s) on track by setting and monitoring goals, facilitating the flow of information across gears, and providing timely feedback on actions needed to improve or sustain the quality of large scale programmes.
Step one involves identifying what is and isn’t in place, and what actions are needed to improve or sustain the quality of large scale programmes. Countries with inadequate gears might fund and launch unfocused programmes without seeing their breastfeeding rates budge. In step two, the dedicated BBF committee appointed for Great Britain (GB) shows decision makers their “BBF report card” and issues recommendations.
The project will take roughly one year to complete, and the results will be available in Spring/Summer 2019. The project provides a unique opportunity to:
- Showcase English, Scottish and Welsh governments’ commitment to supporting breastfeeding
- Provide a roadmap for effective national leadership to boost and sustain breastfeeding rates.
In Great Britain the project is being led by Professor Sally Kendall and her team at Kent University. Each country has its own working group and there is an overseeing GB steering group with representation from academics, health professionals, the voluntary sector and Unicef UK. It is commendable that UK governments have committed to undertaking this major project. We have the voices of our supporters to thank, for bringing parliamentarians’ attention to the importance of governmental involvement and national leadership on this critical issue. Thanks to your action, we are closer to fulfilling Step 1 of our Call to Action: ensuring top level leadership to support breastfeeding.
For more information on the project, visit Yale School of Public Health’s website.
The Lancet: Increasing breastfeeding worldwide could prevent over 800,000 child deaths every year