As Congress works on preparing the federal budget, 90 organizations involved in public health have sent a letter to Congress asking increased support for breastfeeding.
The Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition reports: A letter signed by 90 national and state organizations was sent to Congress today, asking for $15 million per year in line-item funding to promote breastfeeding. The letter also calls for the establishment of a new Interagency Work Group on breastfeeding to help decide how to use the funds to support a strategic plan to improve breastfeeding rates.
The letter, which originated from the American Public Health Association, has 35 national signatories that include organizations focused on many aspects of health, from public health to women’s health to children’s health. Among the signatories are the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American Dietetic Association, Lamaze International, and the National WIC Association. In addition to the national signatories, there are 55 state, local, and tribal signatories representing 43 states, the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Navajo Nation.
The letter comes as the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are marking up the current appropriations bills. “We need to speak loudly and with one voice,” said Dr. Melissa Bartick of Massachusetts, who helped spearhead the letter as the chair of APHA’s Breastfeeding Forum. The letter notes that the only federal funding specifically set aside for breastfeeding is in the WIC program.
The request also lists the following as priorities for this effort:
- Transform the maternity care and infant feeding practices of our maternity facilities into fully evidence-based interventions (e.g., the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding), including health-professional education.
- Help shift social norms to ensure that breastfeeding is supported as the healthiest choice for infants and mothers.
- Support practices that allow working women to continue to breastfeed.
- Ensure sustainable federal oversight in all agencies that address maternal or child health with funding to carry out the necessary research, services and education.
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