Building gBICS at national level
As an initiative, the gBICS implies a process of bringing on board traditional as well as new allies and rallying them around the common purpose expressed in the general objective: to mainstream breastfeeding
protection, promotion and support in the Global Campaign for the health-related Millennium Development
Goals, led by Norway.
The World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative (WBTi) will provide the doorway and stairway for this
process at country level. The WBTi is a participatory process bringing together governments, civil society, UN agencies and professional associations as partners. Following the principles laid down by the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (GSIYCF), the producers of breastmilk substitutes are not a partner. Civil society is the key facilitator that builds momentum for actions resulting in lasting improvements.
Protection of optimal infant feeding practices forms the ground floor of the gBICS house. This is the
critical element to provide the sound basis for promoting and supporting breastfeeding by removing major obstacles or by protecting against forces that can undermine optimal breastfeeding practices. IBFAN´s
mandate lays special emphasis on protecting breastfeeding, advocating for the rule of law to provide sustainable protection through enforcement and monitoring mechanisms. The International Code and its subsequent relevant resolutions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ILO Conventions and policies on Infant Feeding in Emergencies and in the context of HIV/AIDS provide the basis for key rooms to be built in each country. The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was initiated by UNICEF in 1992. The new WHO/UNICEF package has been designed to revitalise the BFHI, with increased emphasis on skin-to-skin contact, early support, assessment of compliance with the International Code and improved criteria for
Promotion of optimal infant feeding represents the first floor. The activities of both IBFAN and WABA
aim to promote optimal breastfeeding and infant feeding practices through information, education and communication campaigns. IBFAN’s national level activities traditionally include promotion of breastfeeding
by inducing cultural change that will make it the norm. WABA´s mandate is to increase efforts for social mobilisation and outreach to include more allies from both inside and outside the breastfeeding movement.
The World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is a successful and efficient way of drawing the attention of the
general public and the media about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Support for optimal infant feeding forms the second floor. This floor includes transformed health care practices in hospitals, through implementation of the BFHI, and in clinics and health centres and community health services. These provide mothers and children with breastfeeding counselling and optimal infant and young child feeding counselling, through regular contacts with skilled health workers from birth for two
years or beyond. WABA and IBFAN both help to train health workers for these tasks. Both have the
capacity to bring all of IBFAN’s traditional allies and WABA’s Core Partners: Academy of Breastfeeding
Medicine (ABM), International Lactation Consultants Association (ILCA) and Wellstart international into the gBICS.
Floor 2 also includes ongoing support from community peer counsellors and mother support groups to sustain exclusive and continued breastfeeding and complementary feeding. WABA is actively involved in promotion of mother support groups, in collaboration with its core partner La Leche League International (LLLI), country groups, and other national mother support group initiatives.
The second floor also includes support for working mothers with crèches and breastfeeding facilities at the workplace. This work is guided by WABA and implemented by IBFAN groups at the regional and national levels.
The roof of gBICS is provided by international human rights instruments which clearly identify the rights holders and the duty bearers. States parties realize their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil these rights. International recommendations and Conventions provide the protection of the rule of law when these are implemented into national legislation that can be enforced and monitored.
The gBICS will evolve and become a worldwide campaign, where all the organizations working for the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding will participate and contribute. IBFAN and WABA
started the process and will steer it until it gains the necessary momentum to stand on its own.