Union Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda today said that breastfeeding is the most natural, cost effective and significant intervention and should be promoted at all levels.
Launching the Mothers Absolute Affection(MAA), a flagship programme to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding, Nadda said, “ This is an enormous resource that every child has access to. Breastfeeding programme will greatly help to reduce the under-five mortality of children.”
The Minister said that all the national health indicators like Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Maternal Maternity Rate (MMR), Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and under five mortality are declining faster in India than the world pace. He highlighted the life cycle approach of the Ministry and stated that a Continuum of care approach has been adopted by the Ministry with the articulation of ‘Strategic approach to Reproductive Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent health (RMNCH+A), bringing focus on all the life stages.
Madhuri Dixit, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate and Brand Ambassdor laid emphasis on Mothers milk in ensuring the survival of the child. The actor and mother of two healthy children, said, “Early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth and thereafter exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is essential for the wellness of the child.” She further added that every family member has to encourage the mother to ensure that child gets it.
Highlighting the importance of this initiative, C K Mishra, Health Secretary (HFW), said that there is hardly any difference in rates of breastfeeding among rural and urban population as against the perception that rural area might have higher rates of breastfeeding due to traditional practices. This implies that need for support regarding breastfeeding is universal.
“Around 20 percent newborn deaths and 13 percent under-five deaths can be prevented by early initiation of breastfeeding,” he added. The Secretary (Health) further mentioned that the MAA – the nation-wide breastfeeding promotion program, is about intensified efforts to promote, protect and support optimal breastfeeding. It builds upon the existing initiatives and addresses the needs of all children including those living in difficult circumstances.
“MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ is a nationwide programme launched in an attempt to bring undiluted focus on promotion of breastfeeding and provision of counselling services for supporting breastfeeding through health systems. The programme has been named ‘MAA’ to signify the support a lactating mother requires from family members and at health facilities to breastfeed successfully. The chief components of the MAA Programme are Community awareness generation, Strengthening inter personal communication through ASHA, Skilled support for breastfeeding at Delivery points in Public health facilities and Monitoring.