|Nutrition and Population Links - Breastfeeding, Family Planning and Child Health - Nutrition Policy Discussion Paper No. 11 (ACC/SCN, 1992, 68 p.)|
For those who specialize in nutrition or family planning, perhaps this Report may not provide much information they didnt already know. Still, they may forget an important objective of the Symposia sponsored by SCN preceding its annual Sessions is to examine in depth nutrition relevant issues and identify policy and programme implications. This is what makes this Report particularly interesting for the practitioners of the an, besides the richness of information - historical and current - that it contains.
The fact remains that, at the community level, family planning services are quite separate from nutrition and health interventions despite their reinforcing effects. It is another reflection of the trend towards segmental primary health care which we have witnessed in the last ten years. What the field does, is usually what the centre decides and provides - thus the major constraints for an integrated approach of nutrition and fertility relate to policies and programmes. The Report provides all the arguments for linking nutrition - specifically breastfeeding - and family planning programmes because both are beneficial for the mother and the child, increasing the cost-effectiveness of each. Exclusive breastfeeding during the first four to six months of life is highly recommended to ensure normal growth and development of the infant. It should be maintained as long as possible, while supplementary feeding should start at six months approximately.
For the mother, breastfeeding has both economic and health benefits. It induces lactational amenorrhoea which allows births to be spaced, thus reducing the likelihood of mothers becoming nutritionally depleted through the demands of frequent pregnancies. At the macro-level, it contributes to the control of population growth, thus lessening strain on environmental and productive resources. This report includes papers which explore these inter-relationships in depth, in many cases providing compelling new evidence for their beneficial links.
Dr Abraham Horwitz