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Public Health Infrastructure

The sixth section of The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding focuses on Public Health Infrastructure, calling for the following action, with associated implementation strategies:

  • Action 20. Improve national leadership on the promotion and support of breastfeeding.
    • Create a federal interagency work group on breastfeeding.
    • Increase the capacity of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and affiliated state coalitions to support breastfeeding.

"Public Health Infrastructure" excerpt from Executive Summary: The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding:

An effective national public health program requires the basic coordination and monitoring of services. Within the federal government, numerous agencies have developed programs on breastfeeding, and others have programs that affect breastfeeding indirectly. Although the work of each of these agencies is valuable, the creation of a federal interagency work group on breastfeeding could enhance coordination and collaboration across agencies to improve support for breastfeeding.

Through the technical assistance of the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), all 50 states have now formed breastfeeding coalitions, and there are many local, tribal, and territorial coalitions as well. These coalitions mobilize local and state efforts to promote and support breastfeeding. The USBC supports state coalitions with technical assistance, web-based communications, and a biannual conference. However, most of these coalitions are small and unfunded. Additionally, except within the WIC program, most state health departments do not have staff responsible for breastfeeding activities, making it a challenge to carry out new breastfeeding programs at the state level.