India launches MAA-- a programme to promote breastfeeding

  • Updated: Aug 05, 2016 19:57 IST
Secretary (health), government of India, CK Mishra, emphasising on the benefits of early initiation of breastfeeding during the launch of programme MAA (mothers’ absolute affection). (HT Photo)

New Delhi: Government on Friday launched National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme— MAA (mothers’ absolute affection) to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Despite breastfeeding being one of the most important interventions for child survival, a dismal 64.9% children are exclusively breastfed for the first six months in India.

“Around 20% newborn deaths and 13% under-five deaths can be prevented by early initiation of breastfeeding,” said CK Mishra, secretary (health), government of India.

Besides it can also prevent child deaths associated with diarrhoea and pneumonia.

The goal of the Programme that will continue for a year, is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices, which includes initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years.

The government will train nurses in government hospitals, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANM) to provide relevant information and counselling support to mothers for breastfeeding.

Monitoring and impact assessment is also an integral part of MAA programme. Progress will be measured against key indicators, such as availability of skilled persons at ground for counselling, improvement in breastfeeding practices and number of accredited health facilities.

Dedicated funds— Rs 4.3 lakhs per district, have been allocated to states for the programme, which is in addition to the funds approved under National Health Mission’s annual project implementation plans.

To ensure effective roll-out of the programme ministry of health has established MAA secretariat and a steering committee will be created in all states and at the district level.

The programme will be monitored by UNICEF and other partners.

Unicef has roped in actor Madhuri Dixit as brand ambassador to promote breastfeeding.

Importance of breast feeding

*13%: children die below 5 yrs of age, owing to poor breastfeeding practices

*823 000: child deaths can be averted every year.

*1,56,000: child deaths could be reduced in India with breastfeeding

*3.4 million: respiratory infection episodes can be reduced

*3.9 million: Diarrhoea episodes can be reduced

*15 times: children are more likely to die of pneumonia who are not breastfed

*11 times: children are more likely to die of diarrhoea

*20,000: mothers’ deaths due to breast cancer can be averted globally f mothers breastfeed for more than a year

*3 to 4 points: Increase in IQ, depending on the duration of breastfeeding

Yet in India

*78.7%: deliveries take place in hospitals

*44.6%: children receive breastfeeding within one hour of birth

*64.9%: exclusively breastfed for the first six months

*50.5%: children between 6-8 months given complementary foods

Optimal Breast feeding Practices

*Breastfeeding within an hour of birth

*Breast-milk alone is the best food and drink for an infant for the first six months of life

*But allow infant to receive ORS, drops, syrups of vitamins, minerals and medicines when required

*After 6 months, introduce semi-solid, soft food along with breast feeding up to two years

*From 6 up to 12 months, breast milk provides half of the child’s nutritional needs

*From the age of 6–8 months a child needs to eat two to three times per day and three to four times per day starting at 9 months – in addition to breastfeeding

*The baby should be fed small amounts of food that steadily increase in variety and quantity as he or she grows

*During an illness, children need additional fluids and encouragement to eat regular meals, and breastfeeding infants need to breastfeed more often

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