A new report, published today by World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi), reveals that while there are good infant feeding policies and programmes across the UK, these are scattered. In England particularly, leadership is missing, support services have declined in recent years and many more are under threat.
Access to skilled support is too often a postcode lottery, with no national breastfeeding committee or coordinator at all in England (scoring just 1/10). Wales scores poorly on national infant feeding leadership (4/10); whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland score 10/10, with infant feeding and infant health underpinning health programmes.
The first World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) UK Report, on policies and programmes in infant feeding, is being launched in Parliament today (15 November). The report looks at gaps and successes across the UK, measured on an internationally-agreed scale, and provides targeted recommendations for action.
The WBTi UK Working Group consists of nearly 20 organisations, including the Institute of Health Visiting as well as government agencies, health professional bodies, and voluntary groups.
Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director, iHV, commented:
“The authors of this amazing piece of work are to be commended for all the work which has gone into it and the understanding it brings on how each country can improve its breastfeeding rates. As they say, this must happen at many levels. The report lays bare the most important actions to take from policy down. I hope that its findings will be picked up by journalists and shared with the wider public who can then also play their part in supporting breastfeeding mothers.”
The recommendations in this report target issues where the UK does not meet internationally-agreed levels, are evidence-based and have broad support, helping policy-makers and commissioners to use resources more effectively.
Action is needed at every level, from communities and local government, in the health system, and at government level. National leadership is essential to drive change sustainably.8 This report is a ‘call to action’ to all our governments and to every level of society.