IBFAN Africa’s goal
IBFAN Africa is to improve the well being of women and children through contributing to the reduction of five morbidity and mortality rates and improving maternal health. Improved infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices could prevent the deaths of 1.5 million children under the age of 5 years every year and save more than 200 million from the life – long debilitating effects of stunning and severe malnutrition (WHO Sixty – third World Health Assembly WHA63.23, Agenda item 11.6), Improved IYCF can also contribute to achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDG’S) 3, 5, and 6 and MDG 4 in particular. IBFAN Africa does not use one single approach to achieve its goal but rather uses a variety of strategies and initiatives.
According to the World Health Organisation, adequate nutrition, beginning in early stages of life, is crucial to ensure good physical and mental development and long-term health. The key recommendation is to initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of the child’s life. The benefits of breastfeeding are well known, including providing the perfect nutrition and protection from life-threatening ailments, obesity and non-communicable diseases. However, more than half of the world’s new-borns are not breastfed within the first hour of birth. In addition to this poor practice, only 38% of infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life. The sub-optimal breastfeeding practices contribute to 800,000 infant deaths globally. Several reports have highlighted the fact that sub-optimal breastfeeding has greatly contributed to malnutrition, which continues to be a major public health challenge especially in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of the children below 5 years of age are stunted and together with South Asia are home to three-quarters of the world’s stunted children. It is particularly noteworthy that the Africa Region is faced with the double burden of under-nutrition and overweight. In 2011, more than two-thirds of the 42 million overweight children under 5 years of age resided in low and middle-income countries.