Lactation Consultants of Great Britain was well represented at the last All Party Parliamentary Group on Infant Feeding and Inequalities on 6th September, 2016.
The main business of the meeting was a presentation by Sue Ashmore of UNICEF, aided by Francesca Entwhistle. Sue announced that at the November Baby Friendly Conference in November, they will be launching the new sustainability standards. She also reported on the Call to Action with its four strands, calling for:
- An Infant feeding Strategy Board, to be set up by the Government,
- The inclusion of breastfeeding in all relevant policy areas (obesity, mental health, Maternity Review, Education),
- The implementation of evidence-based initiatives
- The full adoption of the International Code
The Call to Action attracted 4000 signatories, and was supported by over 30 organisations. The aim is to shift blame away from individual mothers to the failure of the unsupportive culture. We heard that a UN Committee had identified the UK’s low breastfeeding rate, and called on the UK Government to collect data systematically, to protect and support breastfeeding in all policy areas, and to implement the International Code. UNICEF wants organisations to inform their colleagues and to look at appropriate messages in response to media reports. Sue also talked about the new Commissioning Guidance, published in early summer and available on the Public Health England website, to inform local authorities of their new accountability, after the switch of responsibility for health from the NHS to Local Government and the disconnect between public health and the NHS. We noted the increased calls on Local Government at a time when their funding is being decreased, and were reminded of the need to emphasise the importance of the financial savings following breastfeeding. Sue was thanked for the presentation.
We were told that further to the recent Government reshuffle, Philip Dunne MP will be in charge of Infant Feeding for the Department of Health.
Dr Kate Boyer referred to recent research on societal aspects of breastfeeding from Cardiff University with Sally Dowling, indicating that stigma and anxiety about breastfeeding outside the home is still a major barrier to breastfeeding for women
Liz McGregor referred to the estimated £21 billion loss in cognitive development caused by formula feeding.
Helen Gray talked about the WBTi report, due to be launched later in the year.
The next meeting of the APPG will take place on 15th November.