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Advocacy briefs: Cost of not breastfeeding

March 21, 2016

Recent scientific evidence has shown that breastfeeding is critical to a child’s health and development. Yet, in 2012, the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding (consuming nothing but breastmilk) in the first 6 months of life was only 37%. To help improve the global practice of breastfeeding, the 194 countries of the World Health Assembly gathered in 2012 to commit to increasing the global rate from 37% to at least 50% by 2025.

Together with UNICEF, WHO, and 1,000 Days, Alive & Thrive helped develop the new Investment Case for Breastfeeding report, released by the Global Breastfeeding Collective initiative in 2017. The report calls for the immediate scaling up of financing and implementation of policies, programs, and interventions to meet the 2012 World Health Assembly’s breastfeeding target by 2025. In this report, economic evidence on the cost of not breastfeeding was provided by Alive & Thrive and UNICEF, based on a tool we created to determine the future economic losses of low and middle income countries due to suboptimal breastfeeding practices.

Alive & Thrive has commissioned several studies to estimate the cost of suboptimal breastfeeding in seven countries in Southeast Asia, as well as one country in Africa (Nigeria). The study also estimated the cost-benefit associated with a comprehensive breastfeeding strategy at national-scale in  Viet Nam, using effectiveness results from a large-scale operational program.

Cost of Not Breastfeeding briefs:


  • Podcast from Health Policy and Planning

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