The Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS (SCORA) and Bangladesh Medical Students' Society (BMSS Bangladesh), in collaboration with Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation (BBF), organised a dynamic awareness campaign titled 'Winning Before Weaning' to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week 2021.
According to WHO, nearly 2 out of 3 infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended 6 months — a rate that has not improved in 2 decades.
Over 820,000 children could be saved yearly if all children of 0-23 months were optimally breastfed. In a silver lining in the pandemic era, Bangladesh has ranked first in the world in supporting lactating women.
Around 61 per cent of women in Bangladesh practice exclusive breastfeeding. This means one in every three children in Bangladesh is not breastfed exclusively.
This initiative highlighted the impact of breastfeeding on cognitive development, behaviour, social adaptation and understanding of the infant and wellbeing of the mother.
Till the end of August 2021, impactful awareness initiatives were organised like - webinar with BBF, the very first public speaking competition on breastfeeding, capacity building sessions to train doctors and medical students on breastfeeding, etc.
The event created an on-field awareness campaign in medical colleges throughout Bangladesh by mobilising medical students to organise advocacy sessions in the maternity wards.
SCORA engaged the local committees in the medical colleges throughout Bangladesh to enable appropriate antenatal care with proper guidelines and valuable information locally.
This advocacy action became highly impactful and during this campaign medical students hung informative posters on the walls of wards and hallways of their hospitals. The event also contributed to the Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 3.
The writer is a 3rd Year Medical Student at Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College.