Kyrgyzstan: on a mission to protect breastfeeding
*A version of this article was published by the SUN Civil Society Network on 5 August 2021.
Since 2019, the SUN Civil Society Alliance of Kyrgyzstan has played an active role, alongside the Ministry of Health, members of Parliament and UNICEF, to revise the Law on breastfeeding protection. Despite obstacles and political turmoil, this story shows us how, through persistent efforts, even in the face of challenges, great results can be seen, through perseverance.
In 2019, the Ministry of Health in Kyrgyzstan created a working group to revise the Law ““On Breastfeeding Protection”, which included representatives of the SUN Civil Society Alliance (CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan), who contributed to the development of proposals for the draft of the Law. In the same year, UNICEF arranged a visit from David Clark, a specialist in legal support of nutrition programmes. He conducted a training on the monitoring of the law for representatives of the National Centre for Maternal and Child Health, specialists of the Ministry of Health, and took part in a roundtable to discuss the draft Law “on amendments to the Law on Breastfeeding Protection”.
CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan helped organise a meeting between UNICEF, David Clark and the Forum of Women members of Parliament, where David Clark presented the importance of updating the Law in line with the new World Health Assembly resolutions. At this meeting, women MPs reaffirmed their commitment to protecting breastfeeding and pledged to initiate this Law.
In 2020, CSA SUN Kyrgyzstan carried out advocacy to draw attention to the protection of breastfeeding, based on data obtained during the monitoring of the implementation of the Law “On Breastfeeding Protection”. The results were sent to the ministries, to the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic and to some 120 members of the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic.
With the support of UNICEF, 200 leaflets were developed and replicated (for PMs and decision-makers from authorised bodies). A telecast on the NTS TV channel was conducted on the mechanisms of responding to violations of the Law “On Breastfeeding Protection” and on the need to amend the Law. A radio programme on “Birinchi Radio” was held about the importance of the Law “On the Breastfeeding Protection…” with the participation of member of Parliament Ainuru Altybaeva. A publication in “Cactus Media” about violations of the Law and the need to amend this Law was launched, and, on TV channel Ala-too 24 a conversation was held about the weak points of the Law and the need to make changes. The Public Fund “For Food Security and Nutrition” constantly publishes information on the importance of breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, during the October and subsequent events related to the parliamentary and presidential elections, the reorganization of the Government, amendments to the Constitution, the issue of amendments to the Law was suspended. The documents were lost during unrests and the attack on the Parliament building.
After the restoration of all documents, on 30 April 2021, a group of women deputies announced the initiation of the Law on Amendments to the Law “On Breastfeeding Protection”. And, since then, the Kyrgyzstan CSA have contacted the deputies involves – the initiators of the Law on the Protection of Breastfeeding. So far there are no changes, however the process of preparing all supporting documents is underway.