“MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection”, is an initiative by the Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), that is supported by UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) and by legendary Indian actress Madhuri Dixit.
Amidst a large and prestigious gathering, the “MAA-Mother’s Absolute Affection” was launched last week at Hotel Hyatt Regency in New Delhi. The crowd went berserk on witnessing Madhuri Dixit, 1990s diva of Bollywood (Hindi film industry), who is also UNICEF’s celebrity advocate for MAA, entering the hall along with Jagat Prakash Nadda, the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare.
The event started off with lighting of the lamp followed by a short film that highlighted the statistics related to breastfeeding. UNICEF is supporting Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) in planning and launching an intensified pan-India campaign for the promotion of breastfeeding in the month of August 2016.
Lending his support to the initiative, UNICEF representative to India, Louis-Georges Arsenault stated, “It’s a commendable effort and I think not only government but everybody should come forward to promote breastfeeding as it’s a collective social responsibility.”
All the keynote speakers emphasized the three important and basic facts about breastfeeding in their respective speeches. First and foremost is ‘initiation of breastfeeding in the first hour of the baby is born’, second is ‘exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months’, and third is ‘continued breastfeeding after six months up to two years with other foods’.
Anupriya Patel, one of the ministers of state for Health and Family Welfare asserted, “Mothers should be guided, motivated and supported to breastfeed as it also prevents the child from becoming obese and reduces infant mortality rate.”
The campaign not only highlighted the numerous benefits of breastfeeding for the child but also brought to light the importance of breastfeeding for the mother herself. Community workers who work in villages to improve the conditions for breastfeeding were also invited to share their experiences.
Reduce the possibility of cancer
“It not only gives good health to the mother and the child but is also cost effective,” said Vimla Devi, one of the community workers, while listing the benefits of breastfeeding. She effectively and in the most humorous manner asserted that how breastfeeding saves buying milk from the market and also saves gas that would otherwise be used to boil the milk, hence the cost analysis. She had the audiences in split when while trying to highlight the power of mother’s milk she recited the famous Hindi movie dialogue – “Agar maa ka doodh piya hai toh saamne aa,” which means “step ahead if you have drank your mother’s milk”. For a nation that is obsessed with Bollywood, this was a sure shot winner.
In today’s day and age when women are independent and do not want breastfeeding to come in the way of their careers, one of the community workers rightly advised that women while leaving the house should store their milk for their newborns as it will not get rotten before eight hours. It was indeed a useful piece of information.
On expressing his concern over the dire need to promote breastfeeding, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said, “Figures for breastfeeding have been showing a diminishing trend. We thus have to build an environment to promote it.” He also affirmed that the effect of breastfeeding can be seen for a lifetime and that it reduces the possibility of cancer as well.
On expressing her happiness to be a part of such an initiative, Madhuri Dixit said, “Breastfeeding is very important for the mother and the child and if my voice can encourage the community workers and the media to spread a word in any way, then I feel humbled.” She laid special emphasis on the word “support”.
“We often think that breastfeeding is natural, it will happen automatically but it’s not always like that. There could be problems and many mothers stop to breastfeed because of sheer disappointment,” affirmed Dixit. She further insisted that in such circumstances, it becomes the duty of family members to support the mother as she said, “Somebody from the family should very closely discuss the issues the mother is facing in breastfeeding, it could be her mother or mother-in-law or her husband and then get her the right counseling that would help her overcome those problems and continue with the breastfeeding.” She also praised the efforts of all the community workers who are working in the villages to spread the awareness about breastfeeding and urged the media to write about the campaign.
“Healthy children, healthy India”
However, Union minister of Health & Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda got everybody thinking when he said, “One thing amuses me – something that is there since humanity and is deemed natural was made unnatural by the market forces and it’s an irony that we have to do a campaign to promote breastfeeding.” He stressed upon the need to find the issues that need to be addressed at the grassroots. Finally, he signed off by saying, “Healthy children, healthy India.”
The tag line of the campaign – Stanpaan Vikalp Nahin, Sankalp Hai (Breastfeeding is not an option but a commitment) truly reflected in the mood of the event and will surely hit the right chord with the general public alike.