Breastfeeding Manifesto

Work is now underway to gather support for the Breastfeeding Manifesto

The Breastfeeding Manifesto was produced in 2006 in consultation with over twenty UK organisations working to improve awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding and its role in reducing health inequalities.

This Manifesto has been launched for the following reasons:

Several key organisations, including breastfeeding charities and professional bodies, were lobbying government for neccessary changes in policy and approach with regards to brestfeeding in the UK, but there was no cohesive message, no unified call to the UK Government for action.
Despite signficant amounts of lobbying, the Department of Health still brought to an end the role of a National Infant Feeding Coordinator even though our Government in 2002 signed up to the Global Stratergy for Infant and Young Child Health which calls for a National Coordinator.
NICE was soon to publish two key documents that could act as the back-bone of a National Breastfeeding Stratergy and it was imperative that we ensured that these action plans gained the support and resources they needed to be fully implemented.
The Breastfeeding Manifesto is being championed by David Kidney MP, Annette Brooke MP and Julie Kirkbride MP and a strong coalition of breastfeeding charities, breastfeeding co-ordinators, professional bodies, Royal Colleges etc. The Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalitions’ objective is to achieve widespread cross-party support for this document. We aim to ensure that its principles are reflected in government policy and legislation.

The manifesto is based in evidence, both from a review of formal studies and from a national consultation with over 800 health professionals, service users and policy makers conducted in 2005 by the Mother and Infant Research Unit, University of York, funded by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

November 2006 Update
The Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition has met twice in Westminster and currently has 24 key organisations signed-up to the Manifesto. It is important that the Breastfeeding Manifesto Coalition is broad and strong and there are still many more organisations that we are planning to engage. If you are a member of an Non-Governmental Organisation who would like to join the coalition then please click here to send us an email with your details and we will be in touch.

Parliamentary Support
Over 80 MPs have already expressed their support for this important initiative. Our three parliamentary champions wrote to every MP in the UK in early October with a copy of the manifesto (this needs to be a link to the pdf of the Manifesto) and a reply slip (this needs to be a link to the reply slip) asking them to add their support. Many of these Parliamentarians will send off the Reply slip, adding their support to the Manifesto straight away. But, many other Parliamentarians will need to be further engaged and lobbied before they fully understand the importance of the Manifesto and decide to add their support. Click here to find out how you can help.

Why it is so important
The World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months, yet less than 2% of British babies are exclusively breastfed for this length of time. Research from the Public Health Collaborating Centre on Maternal and Child Nutrition demonstrates that breastfeeding has a major role to play in public health, promoting health in both the short and long term for baby and mother. This work concludes that breastfeeding has a key role to play in tackling the fundamental policy goal of addressing inequalities in health in the UK. Despite the overwhelming health benefits and cost savings associated with breastfeeding, UK rates remain unacceptably low.

Women’s ability to breastfeed is constrained by barriers at a range of levels and far from being a matter of choice, breastfeeding is a behaviour that is simply not accessible for many mothers and babies, especially in lower socio-economic groups. This Manifesto (link to the Manifesto), which you can see has been produced by over twenty organisations, draws attention to the gaps in UK breastfeeding policy and outlines seven key objectives that need to be met.

This is a cross party issue that we feel simply cannot be ignored – it is about public health and breaking down inequalities - together we can lead to lasting change, for future generations. If you are an MP, MSP, AM or Peer and would like to add your support please click here. Otherwise click here to add your support on-line.

Together we can make a difference for future generations.


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