Things I Did Not Know, No. 98723

Did you know that New Zealand has a National Breastfeeding Advisory committee?

I know that my ignorance knows no bounds, but really, a whole committee dedicated to the study and promotion of breast feeding for … well, let’s see … New Zealand has a population of roughly 4.25 million people, of those 2.1 million of us are female and of that number about 1.2 million of us are of breastfeeding age. Given that on our last population estimate there are about 145,000 kids under the age of 5 in our country and that breast feeding tends to cease around the 6 month mark. So that would be a whole committee dedicated to promoting breast feeding to the overly generous estimate of around 145,000 women?

How much money, meant for the good of these less than 145,000 kids, is being spent on things like administering the committee of 14 (plus 2 secretariats), creating the 38 page strategic plan (which I can give you in a nutshell: Breastfeeding is good. More women should do it and to show our support we’re going to create framework! Ooh, framework!) and National Action Plan launches when, I don’t know, they could give the money to Plunket instead? You know, Plunket, the people who actually help parents, who used to have a 24 hour helpline until the Government stopped funding it and 100 years of experience in these matters.

Or is there something I’m missing?

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3 Responses to “Things I Did Not Know, No. 98723”

  1. Looking at the Committee members, I would speculate that the cost of the Committee is low (in that they all do it as part of their full-time occupations). Would also speculate that the point is to do things such as ensure the ability of mothers to breastfeed in public places etc… whereas Plunkett is more about the practical support and guidance required by parents. I definitely dig the necessity of having a focussed group for this area, particularly with corporate attempts to replace breastfeeding with their profit-motivated infant milk powders. Also as far as I am aware, committees such as this are extremely supportive of women who cannot/ choose not to breastfeed, or have difficulty doing so. Just in case it sounded like they are evangelical on the subject. (this is based on knowing a member of the equivalent Australian organisation) Perhaps, ironically, their role is to depoliticise the area.

  2. I strongly disagree.

    I don’t see the necessity of a committee who have taken two years to launch an action plan promising that their long term goal is to create some framework to support communities who are are already working with the issue and could probably do with the practical help from charities like Plunket who already have the framework in place (just not the government support) than some committee teaching them how to suck eggs.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything in the plan (available from their website) about raising awareness to allow mothers to breast feed in public and many of their issues cross over (as you would expect) into wider parental issues such as paid parental leave, child care facilities in the workplace etc. which are already being championed by a number of existent governmental and non-governmental agencies.

    Why not look at the wider issue of women being sent home much earlier after child birth than they should be, giving hospitals the resources to have more beds and staff rather than providing what appears to be a band aid to make politicians feel better about fucking up the health system in the first place and not actually doing anything to sort it out?

  3. Well, I didn’t actually read anything on their website except their bio blurbs… so will just go with what you said then… *cough*

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