The general concensus for our end of term report is that opt-quoted phrase,
Could do better
The teachers are the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative, ‘a collaborative national assessment of the implementation of key policies and programmes from the WHO’s Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding…the WBTi brings together the main agencies and organisations involved in aspects of IYCF in a particular country to work together to collect information, identify gaps and generate recommendations for action.
Sounds complicated, right? And do we need some agency to come in and judge us? Well yes, I think we do. For a start, we need our leaders to have a decent idea of how we stand in comparison to other nations. Breastfeeding is arguably the most important public health issue, because life starts with nutrition in infancy. So a report is necessary to work out what we’re doing right and where we need to do our homework and up our grades a bit.
This is the first WBTi assessment for the UK and everyone has been eagerly awaiting the results (Yes, we are rather nerdy in the breastfeeding world!) Would we be wearing the dunces cap, come publication day, or even sitting on the naughty step? Well over all, having had a sneaky peak at the report, I’d say we definitely could be doing a whole heap better.
I’d pretty much say right now we’re the sleepy kid at the back of the class who’s been daydreaming and gossiping through lessons for far too long now. And this report card says it all. It goes into huge detail to paint a rather depressing picture of the state of our support for breastfeeding mothers, but here are a few highlights that caught my eye:
- No established UK-wide infant feeding (IF) group for sharing good practice. b. No national paid sustainable leadership as no Infant Feeding committee or coordinator.
- Our median average duration of breastfeeding (any breastfeeding, not just exclusive): 3 months.
- No national strategy addressing Infant and Young Child Feeding in emergencies.
- Percentage of babies 0-12m fed with bottles: 88%
- No legally required provision for breastfeeding breaks or suitable facilities in workplaces, educational institutions and the judicial system.
- All relevant health professional training is compared to the WHO standards and found wanting, with the exception of midwifery training.
The report is published officially tonight at a launch event at the House of Commons. I hope the great and good are there and take notice. Like any child with a dodgy report card, a ‘could do better’ can be turned around with a commitment to knuckle down and try harder. After all, a score pretty much the same as Afghanistan in 2015, given our infrastructure and relative prosperity, is pretty shameful. For me, the biggest concern is the finding that our mothers are particularly prey to the unchecked marketing offensive of the formula companies, due to our watered down legislation.
Whilst all the mums out there should be getting an A for Effort (and gold medals, of course!), our government and health service definitely get an E.
Oh, and another A goes to the compilers of this report, most of whom have worked 1000s of hours in a voluntary capacity to research and collect the information. The UK WBTi team definitely get prefect status in my book! Maybe our next report in 3-5 years will get us a ‘best improvers’ badge. Here’s hoping!