Posted on August 5, 2014November 2, 2016By: Katie Millar, Technical Writer, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthClick to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This week is World Breastfeeding Week! At the MHTF, we love breastfeeding because it not only saves lives, but is also a great example of maternal and newborn health integration. Yet something related that we don’t often talk about in maternal and newborn health is Water, Sanitation and Hygiene or, WASH. Many of the world’s mothers and newborns live in areas where sanitation is poor and clean water is scare, if not absent. A recent post for 1,000 Days by Rebecca Fishman, highlights the important intersection of maternal and newborn health, breastfeeding and WASH.“The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are critical in fetal and child development; children are especially vulnerable to the adverse and chronic effects of intestinal diseases brought on in part by poor WASH.”Maternal health and education play an important role in preventing these diseases. What the newborn is exposed to is dependent on the sanitation and hygiene conditions experienced by the mother, conditions that affect her health, as well. A woman’s knowledge of WASH practices, like hand washing, is critical to both her and the newborn’s health. Fishman states, “Mothers who do not wash their hands at appropriate times can pass harmful bacteria and pathogens to their infants while feeding. For infants who are not exclusively breastfed, formula mixed with unsafe drinking water can cause bouts of newborn and child diarrhea, and can lead to stunting, wasting, undernutrition, and even death.”Educating women on WASH and breastfeeding is critical to infant health.“Breastfeeding protects infants by decreasing their exposure to food and waterborne pathogens and by improving resistance to infections. Access to proper sanitation reduces exposure to pathogens by separating excrement from a child’s physical environment… A study in Pediatrics found that infants without piped water or toilets and not breastfed are five times more likely to die after one week than those who were breastfed. A Journal of Biosocial Science study showed that infants living in areas with poor sanitation who are mixed-fed (both breast milk and formula) have a higher risk of diarrhea than infants in the same area who are only breastfed. Access to WASH is a critical component of successful breastfeeding. Reductions in diarrheal disease alone through safe WASH can prevent long-term morbidity and at least 860,000 child deaths a year caused by undernutrition.”Supporting new moms to breastfeed is key to infant and child health. Yet, mothers who want to breastfeed may face many challenges, such as low supply, an infant who doesn’t latch easily, and a need for employment that may preclude her from breastfeeding. As we talk about infant health, breastfeeding, and WASH, let’s not forget that health systems, policies, and programs need to support the mother to address her needs and health. Women who are well-supported and educated will also be able to provide care that promotes and protects the health of their newborn and infant.Share this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:
After a week of lots of gridlock and little accomplished, the Alaska State Legislature lurched into some fits of action on the budget this weekend. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.Here’s what lawmakers did over the past two days: They passed a bill advancing an interior energy project, and another dealing with worker’s comp. They also held a late-night meeting that appeared to move the Republican majorities in the House and Senate closer to a budget deal.Here’s what they did not do: Gavel out.SEN. KEVIN MEYER:Mr. Majority Leader?SEN. JOHN COGHILL: Mr. President, I move that the Senate adjourn until Monday the 27th at 10am.Despite speculation that the Legislature could wrap up this weekend, the hopes of many Capitol workers were dashed on Sunday afternoon when Senate President Kevin Meyer told his side to be back to work the next day — the 98th day of the 90 day legislative session.A sense of anticipation had set in, after a conference committee had met at 9pm on Saturday night to resolve the points of disagreement between the House and Senate budgets.Their agreement uses various pots of money to cover the state’s multi-billion-dollar deficit, instead of tapping the state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve. Legislators need a three-quarter vote to access that $10 billion rainy day account, and the House’s Democratic Minority has made their support conditional on increased education funding and Medicaid expansion.Sen. Anna MacKinnon, an Eagle River Republican, said at the meeting that the House and Senate majorities were now seriously considering moving ahead without attempting to access the budget reserve.“We’re waiting to hear from the administration on what happens if there’s no three-quarter vote,” said MacKinnon. “So, as I understand it, the majority has made an attempt to get a three-quarter vote and not been successful to date. And so, we’ve left it to the administration to define to the Legislature, specifically Senate Finance’s request to understand how they will access those funds in what manner, and in what order.”Their budget plugs the revenue shortfall by stopping the forward funding of education, a one-time fix that frees up more than $1 billion for the next fiscal year. Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican, suggested that forward-funding process could come back for schools if House Democrats reconsidered their position on the budget reserve vote.“One of the reasons we couldn’t get the money is because we don’t have a three-quarter vote,” said Kelly. “That might be something on the list of the three-quarter vote to the minority so that we could forward fund education.”Their plan also claws back $157 million that had been designated for work on a natural gas megaproject — money that would otherwise be available to the governor for his studies of an alternative gasline.Some of the conference committee changes made on Saturday night were in line with House Democrats’ requests — some funding for public broadcasting was restored, and a nearly $50 million cut to classroom formula funding made by the Senate was shrunk down to a third of that number.But Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, said the education cuts were still too much.“This $16.4 million reduction on top of the $32 million that’s already been reduced is over a $48 million reduction in funding for our public schools,” said Gara. “I think that’s a devastating amount of funding cuts. And I totally understand that we’re in a fiscal crisis, but there are smarter ways to get around it.”Gara also said he opposed language in the budget meant to prevent Gov. Bill Walker from unilaterally accepting Medicaid expansion.The governor has said he plans to call lawmakers into a special session if they fail to expand Medicaid, and his office has expressed support for passing a fully funded budget.