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Leaders in Burkina Faso discuss next steps for improving breastfeeding practices

November 2016, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso — Following up on evidence recently published by the medical journal, The Lancet, Alive & Thrive collaborated with UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Office, the Burkina Faso Ministry of Health, and the First Lady of Burkina Faso to host a high-level meeting with influential policy makers and stakeholders. This two-day event (November 7-8) aimed to:

  • Present the findings of the 2016 Lancet Series on Breastfeeding, and address implications for policy and programming in francophone West and Central Africa
  • Consider examples of breastfeeding programs in which governments and partners have achieved improved breastfeeding practices
  • Learn from other country experiences regarding the development, revision, and implementation of legal frameworks on regulating the marketing of breastmilk substitutes and other laws to protect breastfeeding

The First Lady of Burkina Faso shared her remarks at the meeting, which was attended by over 100 people, including nearly 50 participants from Burkina Faso, 40 representatives from nine countries in the region, regional NGO, UNICEF and WHO representatives, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and 20 representatives from national media.

Context: Burkina Faso

In 2014, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Burkina Faso was 50.1 percent (UNICEF 2014). Although half of Burkina Faso’s children are breastfed, the initiation of breastfeeding is often delayed, and exclusive breastfeeding practices are not often followed during the recommended first six months of life. While efforts are ongoing across the country to improve these practices, early and exclusive breastfeeding rates still vary greatly by region, ranging from 20.5 percent to 74.1 percent (National Nutrition Survey 2013).

In Burkina Faso, Alive & Thrive supports the Government to implement proven models for scaling up nutrition, with a focus on promoting early initiation of breastfeeding (within one hour of birth) and exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life (no liquids, including water). Learn more about our program in Burkina Faso.