One hundred invited health and policy leaders will meet again in Washington, D.C. on June 29-30 to identify targeted strategies for establishing a national breastfeeding agenda as part of our nation's Health Reform, building on the essential recommendations and positive outcomes of the Second Annual Summit held last June.
Underscoring the import and timeliness of this year's Summit is Nicholas Kristof's Op-Ed in The New York Times yesterday. Breast milk is indeed a "miracle cure," in the words of Kristof, with its capacity to protect against infant mortality and morbidity. It is the "ultimate low-tech solution," he adds, and moreover, it is universally available, free, used since the dawn of time, by all cultures, and even "green".
Based on unequivocal evidence, "the debate is over" regarding the relative value of breastfeeding compared with artificial means of feeding, said Dr. David Meyers, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, at our First Annual Summit on Breastfeeding in June 2009, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the landmark Workshop on Breastfeeding and Human Lactation initially hosted in June 1984 by then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD. Last year, we were honored to have Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, MD as a keynote speaker, reinforcing the importance of breastfeeding with her compelling remarks and subsequent release of the Call to Action to Action to Support Breastfeeding in January.
With continued support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Third Annual Summit, "First Food: The Essential Role of Breastfeeding," will feature presentations by foremost public officials, including Tom Harkin, Senator of Iowa and Tina Tchen, Executive Director, White House Council on Women and Girls.
Keynote speakers will include: Gail Christopher, DN, Vice President for Program Strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Jonathan Fielding, MD, MPH, MBA, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and Chair, Partnership for Prevention; and Rev. James Forbes, Jr., DMin, Founder and President, Healing of the Nations Foundation.
The proceedings of the Summit will again be published in the fall in Breastfeeding Medicine, the Academy's official, peer-reviewed journal, and widely disseminated to more than 2,500 influential health policymakers and providers from the public and private sectors, including all Governors, Senators, and members of Congress. The significant accomplishments of the First Summit and the Second Summit are documented in special issues of Breastfeeding Medicine. Each year's Summit serves as a benchmark to assess annual progress in breastfeeding policy and practice.
Disparities in breastfeeding rates and their associated barriers, to be addressed by panelists and participants representing key stakeholders in maternal and child health — across sectors, including government, nonprofits, industry, academia, and local communities, and across disciplines, including medicine, nursing, public health, policy, research, and social marketing — will contribute to thought-provoking discussion and consensus-building to create an action agenda.