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WBCi launched at the World Health Assembly 21 May 2014

On 21st May, at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, IBFAN, in partnership with WHO and the Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, launched the Financial Planning and Budgeting to help countries implement the Global Strategy for Infants and Young Child Feeding. The launch was attended by over 80 participants from several countries and included representatives of both governments and civil society organizations.

The Financial Planning and Budgeting tool is a component of the World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative (WBCi), whose second component, an advocacy document titled The Need to Invest in Babies was launched in over eight countries in December 2013. The Initiative was developed in response to the primary challenge of lack of adequate resources and plans faced by countries in implementing the Global Strategy, as identified by the World Breastfeeding Trends Initiative. The development of the Financial Planning and Budgeting Tool was funded by DFID and AusAID through the SAFANSI Trust, managed by World Bank.

The launch of the Financial Planning and Budgeting tool was moderated by Lida Lhotska, Regional Coordinator of IBFAN GIFA/Europe. Dr. Arun Gupta introduced the World Breastfeeding Costing Initiative, and explained the process of developing it through extensive discussions with economists, health professionals, and civil society organisations. He informed that the tool was tested with several governments to ensure that it met their needs adequately. Click here for his presentation.

Dr. Julie Smith, health economist with the Australian National University, highlighted the urgent need to invest in breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the normal way of feeding infants; its value is now being recognized by the growing evidence of its health benefits not just for the baby, but also for the mother. However, reversing the decline in breastfeeding, especially due to the marketing hype of formula companies, requires financial investments, which have hitherto not been forthcoming. Click here for her presentation.

Alessandro Iellamo, consultant with IBFAN Asia, showed a short video demonstrating the use of the excel-based tool, which generated a lot of interest amongst participants. Click here for his presentation.

Dr. Homayoun Ludin, Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan, informed how his ministry has used the tool to develop plans of action, worked out accurate budgets and raised funds from different donors. Click here for his presentation.

Dr. Francesco Branca, Director Nutrition, WHO appreciated the work of IBFAN in developing this tool, noting that easy-to-use standard tool can be used by countries to both plan and budget for implementing the Global Strategy and to track availability and movement of resources. He also emphasized the need to integrate infant feeding into the other health and nutrition programs so that it is not viewed as a standalone intervention.