Out of 26 million babies born in a year, about 15 million are not able to begin breast feeding within one hour of birth which is very crucial in providing immunity to infants, according to a new report.
Provision of mother's milk to babies within one hour of birth is referred to as "early initiation of breastfeeding" and ensures that the infant receives colostrum which is rich in protective factors.
India has scored 45 out of 100 on policy and programmes, rising from 44 in 2015, according to the report tilted 'Arrested Development, the 5th Report of Assessment of India's Policy and Programmes on Breastfeeding and Infant and Young Child Feeding 2018'.
The report was compiled by a national consortium of public health groups and agencies, including government departments, AIIMS and UNICEF. It was based on consensus among several organisations and feedback from key policy makers of the Indian government.
Out of 26 million newborns, about 15 million are not able to begin breast feeding within one hour of birth, the report said, quoting the National Family Health Survey-4.
A group of experts at the launch of the report highlighted the need to spread awareness on the importance of breastfeeding in the first six months.
Jaideep Malhotra, the president of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI), said a more holistic report was needed and there was a need to spread awareness about the importance of breast milk.
The experts also floated the idea of a breast milk bank . Ajay Khera, Public Health Specialist and Deputy Commissioner at Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said there was a need for a revision for dedicated counselling about the subject.
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