Petition update

Hello Sikkim-- Need to Increase Breastfeeding in the Hospitals from 33% to Nearly Universal

Jincy Varghese, Dr. Arun Gupta, BPNI India
Delhi, India

Jul 12, 2022 — 


Dr. Mani Kumar Sharma

Hon'ble Minister,

Health & Family Welfare Department, Sikkim

Government of Sikkim.

Hon'ble Dr. Mani Kumar Sharma Ji,

The MOHFW-Government of India, WHO and UNICEF recommend i) initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, ii) exclusive breastfeeding (only breastfeeding, nothing else) for the first six months of life and iii) continued breastfeeding till 2 years of age or beyond along with appropriate complementary feeding after six months of age. These recommendations help both the mother and the baby in achieving optimal health, development and survival.

An international study on the cost of not breastfeeding estimates that inadequate breastfeeding in India results in 100,000 preventable child deaths (mainly due to diarrhoea and pneumonia), 34.7 million cases of diarrhoea, 2.4 million cases of pneumonia, and 40,382 cases of obesity in India. Health impact on mothers is more than 7000 cases of breast cancer, 1700 of ovarian cancer and 87000 of type- 2 diabetes. India spends about INR 727.18 Crores on health care due to resultant illness.

Optimal feeding practices have the potential to simultaneously reduce the risk or burden of under-nutrition and overweight, obesity or diet-related NCDs (including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers).

In the State of Sikkim, according to NFHS-5, while 94.7% births take place in the health facility only 33% mothers are able to begin breastfeeding within an hour.

To improve this situation early breastfeeding, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend implementing “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” in the hospitals with maternity services.In 2016, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, launched the Mothers Absolute Affection (MAA) programme to revitalize efforts towards support of breastfeeding practices through the health system.  The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) has developed and launched the “Breastfeeding Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)” for private hospitals with maternity services.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that lends support to the implementation of Ten Steps being helpful to increase breastfeeding rates and being cost-effective. A World Bank Study in 2019 recommended to improve breastfeeding in the hospitals.

Way to go Sikkim-!

1. Fix your next target in 5 years to match the institutional deliveries to early breastfeeding rates.

2. Make health services mandatory to educate pregnant women to make decisions about feeding their babies, and supporting at time of birth.

3. Direct all hospitals with maternity services to go for accreditation as breastfeeding friendly!


Jincy Varghese and Dr. Arun Gupta, BPNI 

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