The theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week  is all about the importance of building multi-level partnerships to work together to support and protect breastfeeding and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The final Sustainable Development Goal, number 17, calls for cross sectoral and innovative multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve sustainable development.

Research has shown that the most effective way to improve breastfeeding rates is to implement policies and programmes at every level, from hospital to home and community, with support available from health professionals, peer supporters, friends, families and society.

One of the main WBTI recommendations outlines how this could be led from the top in the UK:

A national sustainable Strategy Board, including representatives from all the voluntary groups, health professional organisations, and NGOs to share best practice between devolved nations coordinated by a high level funded lead specialist.

A good breastfeeding journey for a family begins with birth in a Baby Friendly accredited hospital, and continues at home, surrounded by supportive family and friends, with easy access to skilled health professionals and mother support groups in the community. Once they return to work, mothers are supported by their employers to continue to breastfeed as long as they wish. Legislation protects families from misleading marketing by the baby feeding industry, and ensures safe and high quality breastmilk substitutes are available for those babies who need them.

A strong partnership between all sectors is essential to supporting families throughout their journey. The WBTi project was centred around building a strong partnership between organisations and agencies involved in maternal and infant health in order to monitor and assess the UK’s implementation of key infant feeding policies and programmes. The decision-making Core Group was responsible for determining the gaps and recommendations for the WBTi report and its member organisations had to be free from conflict of interest with regard to funding from the formula, baby food, bottle and teat industries. Organisations covering the full spectrum of maternal and infant health were invited to participate in the wider WBTi consultation.

Together, we can build a better future for Britain’s babies.


The WBTi Core Group

Association of Breastfeeding Mothers

Baby Feeding Law Group

Baby Milk Action

Best Beginnings

Breastfeeding Network

Child and Maternal Health Observatory

Department of Health

First Steps Nutrition

Institute of Health Visiting

Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

La Leche League GB

Maternity Action

Northern Ireland infant feeding lead


National Infant Feeding Network

Public Health England

Scotland Maternal and Infant Nutrition Coordinator


Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative


Other organisations who participated in the WBTi consultation

British Dietetic Association.

Cabinet Office

Department of Health

General Medical Council

General Pharmaceutical Council

Nursing and Midwifery Council   https://www.

Public Health Agency Northern Ireland

Public Health Scotland

Public Health Wales

Royal College of General Practitioners

Royal College of Midwives

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Unite, the Union of Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association

U K Standing Conference on Specialist Community Public Health Nurse Education


Relevant quotes:

The Lancet Series on Breastfeeding concluded that breastfeeding is the responsibility of all of society, not just the individual woman.

It takes a village to raise a child………so says the African proverb.

UK Shadow Health Minister Jon Ashworth recently said ‘Children’s health is central to improving wellbeing and economic status of a country’.


By Clare Meynell and Helen Gray

Joint Coordinators

WBTi UK Working Group

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