Several countries now exceed the targets for Exclusive Breastfeeding by 2025. Some are interpreting the targets as  optimum rather than interim –  and this may be holding back further action that could save childrens lives.

Interpreting the World Health Assembly Targets on Exclusive Breastfeeding by 2025: What is expected of each country?

  • Arun Gupta
  • JAI PRAKASH DADHICH Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI); International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)
  • Patti Rundall
  • Nupur Bidla


The World Health Assembly resolution 65.6 in 2012 identified six nutrition targets to be achieved by 2025. One of these targets is to increase the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months to at least 50% from the prevailing rate of 38% in 2012 (WHO/UNICEF, 2014).  Most countries are expected to increase their exclusive breastfeeding rates to achieve this target
This brief helps interpret WHA target for countries. Countries already at or near 50% exclusive breastfeeding should also contribute to World Health Assembly targets and continue to strive for improvements because of the health and economic benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.
The article gives five examples that illustrate what appears to be a widespread misunderstanding of the
global target, with some people assuming that 50% is enough at national level and those countries which have achieved 50% need not contribute/improve, and the other that this target is the optimum instead of an interim target.
Conclusion and recommendation
Given the misinterpretation of the targets, there is risk of losing or wasting opportunities for further improvements in the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding. Such an interpretation could halt progress in countries that have already achieved the 50% target. Therefore, a clear and correct interpretation of the targets and the need for every country to understand that each has to contribute to the World Health Assembly target as well as continue striving for further improvement, is necessary.
The authors recommend:
1. WHO and UNICEF should clarify to countries that by making use of the ‘What-if’ option on the tracking tool, they should opt for a minimum AARR of 2.74 to continue improvement by 2025.
2. Countries should use the tool for correct estimation of the projected targets of rate of exclusive breastfeeding by 2025.
Click here to download an MS Excel based tool to project the targets in 130 countries using updated information on rates of exclusive breastfeeding. The tool can be used to calculate projected targets in any country. :

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