Highlights from World Breastfeeding Week 2019

Alive & Thrive celebrated World Breastfeeding Week 2019 in collaboration with partners and communities around the globe. From August 1-7, A&T planned and participated in events honoring the theme, “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding,” to raise awareness about breastfeeding’s benefits and the need for supportive, enabling environments for mothers and families.

Check out some of the highlights of #WBW2019 around the world!


In July, A&T launched our Cost of Not Breastfeeding Tool, which quantifies the preventable losses of life, cognition, and health system costs in countries around the world due to inadequate breastfeeding. This video, published during WBW, illustrates the importance of the new tool.


The WBW inauguration ceremony, where A&T was presented with an award for contributions to IYCF practices in the country.

The Bangladesh National Nutrition Service presented A&T with an award during the WBW inauguration ceremony, recognizing our achievements in infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices in the country. “Alive & Thrive is providing technical assistance and support to the Government of Bangladesh, strengthening nutrition services through the health system,” explains Zeba Mahmud, Country Director of A&T in Bangladesh. The award serves to recognize A&T’s varied work in the country –  since 2010, A&T has helped develop guidelines and strategies to promote breastfeeding and complementary feeding, assisting to raise exclusive breastfeeding rates. Collaborating with INGO and government partners, A&T has reached 126 million people in Bangladesh with mass media and interpersonal communications campaigns, and will continue to provide technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh in implementing the Breastmilk Substitutes Act and its bylaws.


In Cambodia, A&T along with the Cambodia Center for Independent Media and SUN Cambodia hosted a media workshop to educate journalists on the importance of breastfeeding and breastfeeding policies in the nation. The participants developed practical tools to increase media coverage of breastfeeding, pledging to use their influence to build supportive environments and policies for nutrition. Following the workshop, the journalists joined visits to WBW celebrations in Siem Reap and rural areas. Check out the first article published about the workshop, advocating for enforcement of marketing regulations for breastmilk substitutes.

Hon Kroeun, Deputy Country Director of Helen Keller International Cambodia and Coordinator of the SUN CSA Cambodia, speaks with local journalists at the media orientation workshop, hosted by A&T and Cambodia Center for Independent Media in Phnom Penh.
Parents and children attend the World Breastfeeding Week launch event hosted by the Ministry of Health in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Participants in the media orientation attended the launch, interviewing stakeholders and providing media coverage.


To improve the quality and safety of human milk banks (HMBs) in Myanmar, A&T and UNICEF held trainings for hospital staff at Central Women’s Hospital and Yankin Children’s Hospital. Staff learned about new guidelines for the HMB process as well as strategies for breastfeeding counselling. For infants unable to receive breastmilk from their mothers, HMBs serve a vital role, giving vulnerable infants access to the benefits of breastmilk when they need it most.

Staff are trained on best practices for human milk banks at Central Women’s Hospital and Yankin Children’s Hospital.


Mothers in the Philippines simultaneously latch their babies as they take to social media to advocate for the normalization and support of breastfeeding.

The photographer Giacomo Pirozzi visited the Philippines to document breastfeeding practices and challenges. In alignment with the week’s theme “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding,” his photographs focused on workplace lactation in both the formal and informal sectors, drawing attention to enabling environments for breastfeeding for working mothers. August 18th, he photographed Hakab Na! (Big Latch On), the biggest breastfeeding event in the Philippines, hosted by Breastfeeding Pinays, an online forum of over 270,000 breastfeeding families where thousands of mothers simultaneously latched their babies around the country.


In an important milestone for the Center of Excellence (CoE) for Breastfeeding initiative in Vietnam, two designation ceremonies were conducted, following a decision on August 6 from the Ministry of Health, approving a legal foundation to expand the CoE approach nationwide. The potential for impact is widespread.

“The designation of the first hospital in Ca Mau as a Center of Excellence gives us motivation to replicate the model towards building a brea

A&T Southeast Asia Regional Director Roger Mathisen with staff at Tran Van Thoi CoE designation ceremony.

stfeeding-friendly province,” said  Nguyen Van Dung, the Acting Director of the Department of Health in Ca Mau.

To receive the CoE designation, multiple groups evaluate the hospital, including mothers who have recently given birth in the facility; the MOH or DOH then determines which hospitals qualify. Hospitals recognized as a CoE serve as best practice models for the promotion of breastfeeding and receive media attention to help pregnant women and their families make informed choices about their birth facilities. “The CoE initiative is a practically significant intervention to create and maintain a breastfeeding-friendly environment… and can bring great impact on ensuring nutrition and sustainable development of children,” said Nguyen Viet Tien, Deputy Minister of Health at the CoE ceremony.

Vietnam Television produced two videos, looking at the CoE approach and its impact for WBW.


A&T supported the Federal Government of Nigeria to launch the Start Strong/Zero Water Breastfeeding Campaign and unveiled the National Maternity Entitlement Assessment Report to mark the start of WBW. Start Strong/Zero Water is a major mass communication campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for infants in their first 6 months and early initiation of breastfeeding. With only one in three Nigerian children exclusively breastfed, the National Maternity Entitlement Assessment Report presentation highlighted that mothers were often not granted adequate time to breastfeed during work hours.

Dr. Mairo Al-Makura (2nd from right), a representative for Nigeria’s first lady, unveiled the Start Strong/Zero Water campaign logo at the WBW launch.

Kaduna State, Nigeria

Nutrition is crucial in Kaduna state – after the high level of malnourished children in the area prompted a state of emergency in malnutrition, exclusive breastfeeding has been prioritized. Hajiya Aisha Umma Garba El’Rufai, the First Lady of Kaduna State and chairperson of the Kaduna Emergency Nutrition Action Plan, held a parade in Kaduna as well as a panel dialogue called “Breastfeeding: Family friendly policies are key to enabling exclusive breastfeeding.” The panel focused on the need for community support towards nursing mothers to reduce child mortality through exclusive breastfeeding, while the parade raised awareness about exclusive breastfeeding and celebrated the recent legislation passed in the state guaranteeing six months maternity leave.

Her Excellency Hajiya Aisha Ummi Garba El’Rufai wife of the Governor of Kaduna State addressing onlookers during the fun parade.

Watch Madame El Rufai in this Facebook Live interview with A&T’s technical advisor Chinweuba Ezeigwe. 

Lagos, Nigeria

In Lagos, a baby show was held, in recognition of mothers who practice exclusive breastfeeding. The Alive & Thrive team, along with 112 other stakeholders, including representatives from the Lagos State Ministry of Health, the Primary Health Care Board, Traditional Medicine Board, implementing partners, health workers, and breastfeeding mothers from A&T supported public health facilities in Lagos participated in the event. The babies, presented by their mothers, were assigned points based on their health behaviors, encouraging stakeholders in Lagos to adopt best practices in infant health. Judges evaluated factors such as early initiation of breastfeeding; exclusive breastfeeding for babies under 6 months; weight, as a measure of proper nutrition; and adherence to immunization schedule. While only one baby was named the winner, entire communities benefit from raising awareness about the importance of breastfeeding and engaging stakeholders to prioritize infant health.

Winners of the baby show activity at the Lagos Mainland Local Government Area pose with their gifts.


On August 5th, A&T held a panel in India to raise commitment to the creation of enabling environments for breastfeeding, in public and in private. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Pediatrics and Centre for Advocacy and Research, the panel also informed the development of a guidance note for health facilities to improve adherence to the Infant Milk Substitutes Act, which bans the promotion of milk substitutes to encourage optimal breastfeeding.

Dr. Khera, from the MoHFW, delivering the keynote address at the panel to promote optimal breastfeeding.


A&T in Ethiopia collaborated with partners to organize events at national and regional levels to raise awareness about gender-equitable parenting and social protections to support breastfeeding. Nationally, together with the Ethiopia Federal Ministry of Health, the Ethiopia National Nutrition Program (NNP), and media agencies, A&T helped orchestrate a week of activities raising awareness for breastfeeding, including a press conference, features on national TV programs, and community engagement in health facilities. The breastfeeding promotion extended to regional levels; in Amhara, Tigray, SNNP, Afar, and Somali, A&T provided technical guidance to TV roundtable discussions, radio programs, and communications materials. In each regional city, panel discussions were organized with representatives from NNP, religious leaders, hospitals, implementing partners and breastfeeding mothers, to advocate for optimal breastfeeding strategies and environments in Ethiopia.

Breastfeeding mothers supporting breastfeeding-friendly policies at a regional panel in Ethiopia.