World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) took place between Aug 1-7 to protect, promote and support breastfeeding worldwide.
Brazil continues to be a global leader in breastfeeding policies. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recognized the country as a reference in the area, especially regarding donations. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective sources of nutrients for infants up to six months of age.
Between 2008 and 2014, 1.1 million mothers donated to the country’s milk banks, making Brazil the country with the most breast milk donors in the world. The low-cost, high-quality strategies Brazil has used for the implementation of milk banks are now being replicated/communicated in 24 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Iberian Peninsula, Africa and a few other European countries.
In 2001, the WHO also recognized the Brazilian Network of Human Milk Banks as one of the major contributors to reducing infant mortality in the world in the 1990s. From 1990 to 2012, the infant mortality rate in Brazil fell by 70.5%.
Breastfeeding is essential for children up to two years of age as it enhances protections against infections, diarrhea and allergies, reducing infant mortality.
Brazil’s Human Milk Banks (HMBs) strategy was initially developed 32 years ago by the Ministry of Health. It has benefited more than 1.8 million newborns between 2009 and 2016 with the collection and distribution of milk.
Donor data is cross-referenced by the bank, and the characteristics of the milk are analyzed so that the distribution is specific, according to the needs of each baby. With support from more than 1.3 million women donors, the network collected approximately 1.4 million litres of milk in the period.
Brazil’s Maternity Benefits
Brazilian women who give birth or adopt a child are entitled to maternity benefits for 120 days. The benefit, paid by the National Social Security Institute (INSS), is intended for employees, freelance workers, domestic servants, special insured persons, individual contributors to the pension system and voluntarily insured persons.
The amount begins to be paid according to the medical certificate: from the 8th month of gestation, 28 days before the birth or after the birth date of the child – except for unemployed women, who start receiving at birth. Employers are responsible for paying the benefit to employed mothers and are later reimbursed by the INSS. Payments to domestic workers and adopters are the direct responsibility of the Social Security system.
Since 2013, in the event of the death of the partner or spouse, the father is entitled to the benefit if he is insured by the Brazilian Social Security system. Men who adopt can also apply for the benefit upon taking leave from work. The same goes for same-sex couples.