Help make breastfeeding protection, promotion, support and Safe Motherhood a priority for the G-8 and G-20 meetings June, 2010

Early and exclusive breastfeeding reduces child mortality and malnutrition.

Safe Motherhood support is critical to improve maternal health and reduce maternal deaths related to childbirths.

The G-8 G-20 meetings to be held in Canada will focus on the Maternal Newborn Child Health Initiative.

The objective of the Maternal Newborn Child Initiative is to give momentum to the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5 aimed at reducing the outrageous global rates of maternal and child deaths, malnutrition and illness.

MDG Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Target: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-fives mortality rate.

MDG Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Target: Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality rate.

Breastfeeding, early and exclusive, is well documented as the most effective and least costly intervention to reduce mortality rates for children under the age of five years.

Nearly all mothers can breastfeed. Adequate societal, nutritional and health care system supports are important to ensure that all women are facilitated to breastfeed their children. Important support measures include:

32% of under fives deaths are due to diarrheal disease and acute respiratory disease. Both are prevented by early and exclusive breastfeeding. The Lancet series on Child Survival (2003) have noted that 13 percent of under fives deaths can be reduced by the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding. As well the WHO publication Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, 2009, notes: Sub-optimal breastfeeding contributes to 1,000,000 deaths (3.7% of total deaths) in low-income countries. Childhood underweight contributes to 2,000,000 deaths (7.8% of total deaths in low-income countries).

Let Canada’s politicians know that the protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding and maternal supports for Safe Motherhood are critical measures to be included on the G-8 Maternal Newborn Child Health Initiative agenda. Maternal breastfeeding support is critical to achieve the very important targets of the UN MDGs and effectively reduce under fives deaths, infant and young child health and improve maternal survival.

Your actions can improve global maternal and child survival!

Elisabeth Sterken
Director INFACT Canada