“Breastfeeding is the most natural, cost effective and significant intervention and should be promoted at all levels. This is an enormous resource that every child has access to. Breastfeeding programme will greatly help to reduce the under-five mortality of children” This was stated by J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare at the launch of MAA (Mothers Absolute Affection), a flagship programme to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding. Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, C K Mishra, Secretary (Health) and Leena Nair, Secretary (WCD), Mr. Louis George Arsenault, UNICEF Representative to India and Ms. Madhuri Dixit, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate were also present at the occasion, along with other senior officials.
J P Nadda 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. The Health Minister 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. Nadda further added that we must appreciate that breastfeeding is a child’s first inoculation against death, disease and poverty and according to the latest scientific evidence; breastfeeding is our most enduring investment in physical, cognitive and social capacity development.
Addressing the gathering, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that awareness is the key among people and we have to work on dispelling myths and misconceptions. The Minister stated that breastfeeding creates a special bond between mother and baby and the interaction between the mother and child during breastfeeding has positive impact for life, in terms of stimulation, behaviour, speech, sense of well-being, security and how the child relates to other people.
Anupriya Patel, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, said that Breastfeeding is central to improving child survival. Poor breastfeeding practices contribute to about 13% of child deaths. She further added that the Ministry is launching MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection’’ to create an enabling environment to ensure that mothers, husbands and families receive adequate information and support to promote breastfeeding practices.
Madhuri Dixit, 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. The family, especially the husband should support his wife. Support is very necessary for successfully breastfeeding the child. The simple act of breastfeeding can ensure our children have the right nutrients to start their life.
Highlighting the importance of this initiative, C K Mishra, 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% newborn deaths and 13% under-five deaths can be prevented by early initiation of breastfeeding,” C K Mishra said. 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 and Award/recognition.