Most of the programmes are intended to increase the rate of children that receive exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) up to the age of six months, as per recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO). Other measures such as increasing the rate of early initiation of breastfeeding, as well as training and education initiatives, ultimately aim to achieve the same goal of EBF for the first six months of infants’ lives.
Examples of multi-country breastfeeding programmes in low and middle income countries include:
- PROMISE-EBF: Promotes EBF in three countries in West Africa and trains peer counsellors to provide information and encourage EBF for the first six months of the infant’s life. The results in Burkina Faso and Uganda were 80 per cent rate of EBF compared to 33 per cent in comparison groups, while the increase in South Africa was smaller.
- La Leche League: A non-profit organisation operating in 68 countries to distribute information on and promote breastfeeding. Results from a Guatemala evaluation indicate that 45 per cent of the women in the intervention group exclusively breast-fed, compared to 14 per cent of women in comparison groups.
- Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative: A global initiative by UNICEF and WHO to ensure that all maternity facilities, whether free standing or in a hospital, become centres of breastfeeding support by implementing 10 specific steps. Since the BFHI began, more than 15,000 facilities in 134 countries have been awarded Baby-Friendly status. Where hospitals have been designated Baby-Friendly, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants, and child health has improved.