World Breastfeeding Week 2021 National Webinar on “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”

As part of World Breastfeeding Week - 2021, Manipal College of Nursing, Manipal, Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and Department of Paediatrics, Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Manipal, MAHE, in collaboration with Indian Academy of Paediatrics, Udupi District Branch, organized a National Webinar on 5th August 2021, virtually through MS Teams platform between 2.00 pm and 4.30 pm for the students, staff nurses and faculty of MAHE and other institutions across the state and country. The theme for the webinar was: “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.

Dr Leslie E Lewis, Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics, KMC Manipal presented the welcome address stating that “A better breastfeeding can save a million lives”. Dr Lewis welcomed all the participants, guests and speakers and expressed his sincere honour to have such a program during the pandemic. He briefly introduced the program and the objectives of the observance of the World Breastfeeding Week celebration across the globe.

An overview of the week-long activities was presented by Dr Yashoda S, Assistant Professor - Senior Scale, the organising secretary, explaining the spectrum of activities undertaken by the organising units to observe the World Breastfeeding Week 2021.

Dr Judith A Noronha, Dean, Manipal College of Nursing Manipal also reiterated the importance of Breastfeeding, quoting “A newborn has only three demands - warmth in the arms of the mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three”. Dr Noronha also emphasised that awareness is necessary for family members and congratulated the organising units for collaborating to put up such an informative program.

The webinar had four enlightening sessions on topics relevant to the current need in the pandemic situation while reviewing the basics of breastfeeding as a shared responsibility.

The first session on ‘Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared responsibility’ was discoursed by Dr Apurv Barche, Assistant Professor, Department of Paediatrics, KMC, Manipal and was moderated by Dr Sandeep Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Paediatrics, KMC, Manipal. Dr Barche briefly explained the historical perspectives of breastfeeding, connecting it to scientific, clinical findings and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG-2030) of the UN. He emphasized the responsibility of the public and organisations in sharing the responsibility in encouraging breastfeeding for greater impact.

Ms Nupur Bidla, Director, Advocacy, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) delivered the second session on ‘Effective Implementation and Enforcement of IMS Act’. The session was moderated by Dr Anjalin D’Souza, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Child Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal. Ms Bidla spoke about the responsibility for protecting breastfeeding, restating the importance of shared responsibility by the community and government, apart from the family and mothers. She discussed the history, key provisions, and awareness about IMS Act and the need for awareness for health professionals. She also reviewed the legal aspects of the Act, the effects of violation and the ways to report a violation.

The third session ‘COVID Positive Mother - Fear or Feed’ was delivered by Dr Shrikiran Hebbar, Professor, Department of Paediatrics, KMC, Manipal and was moderated by Dr Jayashree P, Professor, Department of Paediatrics, KMC, Manipal. Dr Hebbar spoke about the fears that mothers had regarding breastfeeding and child-rearing during the pandemic situation. He also deliberated on the established facts that were debated about and contradicted regarding the processes related to neonatal survival. He concluded with evidence and supported the fact that the risk of breastfeeding is much lesser than giving the child top feeds or other commercial feeds and gave detailed recommendations to the mothers and caregivers while providing care.

The last session ‘Role of Nurse in Breastfeeding during Covid-19 Pandemic’ was presented by Dr Mamatha S Pai, Professor, Department of Child Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal and was moderated by Dr Binu Margaret, Assistant Professor, Department of Child Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal. Dr Mamatha discussed the importance of breastfeeding and the challenges that are faced by the mothers. She also discussed the ways to tackle the challenges most effectively and the ways in which the nurses in the care situations can help and support the mothers and their families. She insisted that the health care providers should undertake capacity building programs in order to be better equipped to overcome the challenges.

Participants actively participated and clarified their doubts during the question and answer sessions. The program was concluded with a vote of thanks proposed by the Convenor, Dr Baby S Nayak, Professor and Head, Department of Child Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal. Participants expressed that the sessions were informative, useful and the webinar was well organized. The webinar was attended by 120 participants including students, nurses and teaching faculty from within MAHE and various institutions across the country India. Ms Tenzin Phagdol and Ms Edlin Mathias, PhD Scholars, Department of Child Health Nursing, MCON, Manipal were the Masters of Ceremony.