Nicholas Kristof - crusader journalist for the good of women all over the world - just wrote a NYT article about the challenges of breastfeeding in developing countries. He starts with the story of a teenage mother in a small village in Mali and her starving 3 week old baby. He helped her get to a hospital and the doctor said: “The mother doesn’t know how to breast-feed properly. We see lots of cases of child mortality like this.” The doctor repositioned the mother's arm, helped the infant latch on to her breast, and the baby came alive.
In Mali, fewer than a quarter of women breast-feed exclusively for six months, which is the current gold standard of the World Health Organization. In Niger, it’s 8 percent, and in Chad, it’s only 2 percent. An article in the Lancet finds that sub-optimal breastfeeding claims the lives of over 800,000 infants each year, more than malaria.
According to Shawn Baker, a public health expert with Helen Keller International, the next thing he'd invest in is is breastfeeding promotion. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that more than 800,000 kids are dying annually of suboptimal breastfeeding,” said Baker.
Kristof makes a solid case that breast milk is a miracle food that can literally save lives, BUT that women need help making it happen. "Nursing a baby might seem instinctive, but plenty goes wrong," he writes. Amen to that brother! Let's hope this cause captures people's hearts and women around the world can get the breastfeeding support they need.