Virtual Global Symposium Celebrating the World Breastfeeding Week

A Global Virtual Symposium on Investing in Maternal & Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) for Sustainable Development was organised by the Department of Foods & Nutrition and its Alumni, Faculty of Family & Community Sciences, The Maharaja Shivaji Rao University (MSU) of Baroda in association with We Collaborate for Nutrition (WeCan) on 1st and 4th of August, 2020. The symposium held during the World Breastfeeding Week focused on what works, what are the gaps and what needs more efforts and change.

The virtual symposium witnessed 16 panellists from academia, medicine and other fields related to MIYCN come together to deliberate and shed light on different pathways to improve maternal and child nutrition in the country. The panellists also included Dr Manisha Chandra, IAS, Commissioner, DWCD, Gujarat. She informed the gathering about steps taken by ICDS in the state to ensure continuity of nutrition services during spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

The Symposium commenced with Prof. (Dr) Vanisha Nambiar, Convener for Department of Food & Nutrition, MSU & WBW Vadodra alliance introducing themes to be discussed during the two-day symposium and the purpose behind it. Dr Meenakshi Menon, Symposium Chair & Head, Department of Food & Nutrition, Prof Anjali Karolia, Dean, Faculty of Family Planning & Community Sciences and Prof. Parimal Vyas, Vice Chancellor, MSU, also graced the inaugural session and shared their views.

It was divided into 6 sessions covering a wide array of topics on improving maternal nutrition and IYCF practices. The pool of panellists was drawn from medical fraternity, academia, nutrition experts and other public health practitioners working at the global, national and state level.

Dr Arjan De Wagt – Nutrition Chief, UNICEF, India stressed that along with investing in MIYCN, there is also a strong need to oversee proper and more relatable implementation of these programmes. In another session, Thomas Forissier, Director Programs, Asia, Alive and Thrive, FHI-360 shed light on the Strategic Planning and Management for Promotion Protection and Strengthening of Breastfeeding in South-East Asia.

Among other topics, spotlight was also on Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) to promote breastfeeding, effective breastfeeding techniques for mothers based on case studies in India and United States and priorities in breastfeeding during COVID-19.

The symposium concluded with a reiteration of the fact that breastfeeding was not just the responsibility of mother or immediate family but should be viewed in a wider social context. Policies, mindsets, counselling and awareness should be optimized to create a conducive atmosphere to enable breastfeeding.