Key facets of ‘MAA’ – Mothers’ Absolute Affection
A National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme
1. MAA – Mothers’ Absolute Affection, a nation-wide programme for promoting breastfeeding was launched by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare on 5th August 2016 in New Delhi. Ministers of State Ms Anupriya Patel, Sh. Faggan Singh Kulaste along with UNICEF Celebrity Advocate Ms Madhuri Dixit graced the occasion.
2. MAA is an intensified programme of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, for creating an enabling environment to ensure that others, husbands and families receive adequate information and support for promotion of breastfeeding.
3. The goal of the MAA Programme is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices, which includes early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years, along with feeding of safe and appropriate nutritious food on completion of six months.
4. The key components of the programme are:
a. Communication for enhanced awareness and demand generation through mass media and mid media;
b. Training and capacity enhancement of nurses at government institutions, and all ANMs and ASHAs. They will provide information and counselling support to mothers for breastfeeding;
c. Community engagement by ASHAs for breastfeeding promotion, who will conduct mothers’ meetings. Breastfeeding mothers requiring more support will be referred to a health facility or the ANM sub-centre or the Village Health and Nutrition Day (VHND) organized every month at the village level;
d. Monitoring and impact assessment is an integral part of MAA programme. Progress will be measured against key indicators, such as availability of skilled persons at delivery points for counselling, improvement in breastfeeding practices and number of accredited health facilities; and
e. Recognition and team awards will be given to facilities showing good performance, based on evaluation against per pre-decided criteria.
5. Dedicated funds have been allocated to States/Union Territories (UTs) for the Programme @ Rs 4.3 lakhs per district, which is in addition to the funds approved under NHM annual project implementation plans.
6. Detailed guidelines have been prepared to guide implementation in all the States and UTs. The States will also launch the MAA programme in August 2016, and programme will continue for a year.
7. A MAA Secretariat has been established in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. A MAA Steering Committee will be established in the states and districts for effective roll-out.
8. The MAA programme will be monitored by UNICEF and Reproductive, Materanal, Newborn, Child Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) lead development partners.
Importance of Breastfeeding
1. Breastfeeding is the cornerstone for child survival: poor breastfeeding practices contribute to 20 per cent of neonatal deaths and nearly 13 per cent of deaths in
children below five years.
2. If all children receive the benefits of breastfeeding – globally, 8,23,000 child deaths can be averted every year.
3. For India, breastfeeding can reduce 156,000 child deaths every year, reduce over 3.4 million episodes of respiratory infections and 3.9 million episodes of diarrhoea in young children.
4. If mothers breastfeed for more than one year – globally, 20,000 mothers’ deaths due to breast cancer can be averted.
5. A longer duration of breastfeeding is associated with a 3 point increase in IQ.
6. Longer periods of breastfeeding are associated with a reduction in a child’s risk of being overweight or obese.
YET IN INDIA
1. Almost 80% deliveries take place in health facilities but only 45% children receive breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
2. 65% are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.
3. 50% children between 6-8 months given complementary foods along with breastfeeding.
What needs to be done
Breastfeeding is not the sole responsibility of a mother. Government leadership and support from health systems, families, communities and workplaces can help a mother breastfeed successfully. Building communication and counselling skills of facilities and community healthcare providers, provision of counselling on breastfeeding during the antenatal period, at the time of delivery, other health contacts, and during home visits, are essential for promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding.