As per the 4th Assessment of India's Policies and Programmes on Infant and Young Child Feeding report, Still the country is far from reaching its targets on improving the breast feeding rates.
The report documented in "Arrested Development" revealed that as many as 14.5 million babies comprising 55 % of newborns in India annually, are deprived of optimal feeding practices in their first year after birth. The findings were released by Nutan Guha Biswas, additional secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development.
As a part of the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative, the assessment revealed all the gaps in ten areas of policies developed for improving breast feeding rates in India. According to the specific indicators on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) policies, India scored only 78 out of 150, a marginal improvement from the 74 points it scored in the last assessment in 2012.
Countries such as Afghanistan (99/150), Bangladesh (107.5/150) and Sri Lanka (129/150) have fared far better than India in their breastfeeding promotion scores. The report identified that aggressive promotion of baby foods by companies, lack of support to women in the family and at work places, inadequate healthcare support, and weak policy and programs contributed to the lack of improvement in infant and young child feeding practice indicators. The WHO has identified 'poor infant feeding' as a risk factor for the survival of the child, contributing to neonatal deaths.
Arun Gupta, Regional Coordinator, International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) ASIA, Central Coordinator, said, "These missed opportunities reflect the failure of key decision makers in giving infant and young child feeding issues priority and due attention. Breastfeeding within an hour of delivery reduces neo-natal mortality by 22 % as it protects the babies from various kind of infections."
Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) and Public Health Resource Network (PHRN) jointly coordinated the India Assessment 2015, between February and June 2015. The organizations also submitted recommendations to the government for promotion of breastfeeding including an effective mechanism for strict implementations of regulations controlling baby foods,a national policy on IYCF, revival of baby-friendly hospitals and maternity protection and policies with a provision of nine months of maternity leave.