Check out Nikhil’s article in EPW Engage in which he explores the government’s current pilot program (Mother’s Absolute Affection, or MAA) to improve breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is known to help children survive, providing vital nutrition and protection from disease. Nikhil argues that the current funding allocation and design of the MAA program is unlikely to incentivize frontline health workers to carry out the critical task of breastfeeding sensitization.
Through his work on a small pilot project to encourage first time mothers to initiate breastfeeding early and to continue exclusive breastfeeding in a government hospital in UP, Nikhil describes how effective one on one counseling can be:
Of the 1,236 women, who were first-time mothers and who were visited by a lactation consultant, 74% did not have a good latch on the first try, causing delays and hardships for breastfeeding. After one counselling session, almost a third of the women were able to correct the position of the child for a good latch, allowing the newborn to feed and encouraging the mother to continue breastfeeding.
The government’s interest in this important issue is laudable. But alongside the MAA program, Nikhil advocates for full-time, dedicated breastfeeding and newborn care consultants at each district hospital across the country. While monetary resources are essential, his recommendation focuses on the close attention that must be paid to the critical work of breastfeeding and newborn care in order to make meaningful headway in improving the lives of many of India’s children.
See the full article here.