The Interagency Group for Action on Breastfeeding: donor to donor cooperation for policy enhancement.
Indicative of increased interest in breast feeding promotion on the part of the international donor community, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) co-sponsored the first meeting of the Interagency Group for Action on Breast Feeding. This 1987 gathering was followed by an interagency needs assessment, establishment by WHO of an international data bank, and identification of successful breast feeding promotion programs. The long-term goal, however, is to influence high-level policy makers to support the goal of empowering all women to exclusively breast feed for 4-6 months and continue supplemented breast feeding well into the second year of life. One of the most effective ways to promote support of breast feeding is to convince governments that this practice decreases the incidence of diarrheal and respiratory disease and increases child spacing, thereby reducing infant mortality. A review of the efforts of selected countries to reverse declining trends of breast feeding initiation and duration is underway, and health care worker training programs are being developed. Two WHO-UNICEF publications--a Joint Statement on the role of health services and "Ten Steps to Successful Breast Feeding"--are facilitating implementation of breast feeding promotion activities.