World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action Global Forum Opens in Tanzania

Experts and activists from more than 70 countries and regions gathered in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha Monday to discuss breastfeeding, HIV/AIDS and infant health issues. The five-day international conference, "Nurturing the Future: Challenges to Breastfeeding in the 21st Century," is the second global forum launched by the Penang, Malaysia-based World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.

The global forum is a continuation of the WABA's campaign to rally worldwide participation in the movement to protect, support and promote breastfeeding, and maternal and child health. The first WABA global forum on breastfeeding was held in Bangkok in 1996. Opening the WABA global forum, Tanzanian Deputy President Ali Mohamed Shein called on governments and NGOs to make joint efforts to improve infant health through breastfeeding around the world.

Admitting that the breastfeeding movement is faced with severe challenges arising from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Shein said special attention must be paid to the worldwide campaign aimed at improving infant care and protecting the natural rights of mothers. Addressing the opening ceremony, WABA Chairperson Anwar Fazal stressed the importance of breastfeeding for infants and the challenges facing both mothers and babies in the new century.

In the group discussions, experts and scholars will examine how the breastfeeding and HIV/AIDS movements can work better together and with UNICEF and other UN agencies to reduce maternal and infant mortality, especially in areas of high HIV prevalence. The group discussions will also address spreading awareness on the rights of children and women to adequate food and health care, especially in developing countries, and strengthening existing alliances and creating new ones in support of young child nutrition and care.

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