Baby being breastfed
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Breastfeeding. Credit: Hasse Holmberg / TT
Woman in glasses looking into the camera.
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Sofia Norlin, health programme specialist at Sweden's International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Credit: Ulla Engberg / Radio Sweden

Sweden's push to support international breastfeeding

4:50 min

Swedish development money is promoting breastfeeding around the world. A new international resolution is providing hope in that work.

Tuesday was the last day of this year's World Breast Feeding Week, which takes place every year at the beginning of August. The week is run by the network World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, but a large part of the funding comes from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida.

Sofia Norlin, health programme specialist at Sida, tells Radio Sweden that the work to support breastfeeding around the world is really about cutting infant mortality, as breast milk contains many vital ingredients for the baby. It also helps parents in lower income countries to avoid using breast milk substitutes mixed with unclean water.

According to a new report from the WHO and UNICEF, child mortality could be cut by 33 per cent if children are breastfed during the first hour after birth - as this is a good start for mother, as well as baby, towards continued breastfeeding.

But this is not without political debate. At the annual World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation, US delegates were working hard to try to water down a proposed resolution that would encourage breast-feeding and limit 'misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes', also known as formula.

Explaining the US stance, President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet: "The U.S. strongly supports breastfeeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty."

In the end, the resolution was adopted, and Sofia Norlin at Sida is pleased.

"There are great hopes and expectations for this. It is really a milestone for the breastfeeding movement, and it is something that will mean a lot for them," she told Radio Sweden.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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