Celebrating almost 30 years of Protecting, Promoting and Supporting Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding through Health Professional Education

About Wellstart International...

 

Wellstart International is a nonprofit organization with (501) (C) (3) tax deductable status. It was launched originally as the San Diego Lactation Program (SDLP) in 1979-1980. Initially the SDLP was within the Department of Community and Family Medicine of the University of California San Diego Medical School and was a component of the perinatal services and teaching of the University of California San Diego Medical Center. In 1983 with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) SDLP added an international faculty education and development program, The Lactation Management Education Program (LMEP). The program design included bringing multidisciplinary, leadership level teams of health care providers (OB, Pediatricians, Family Practitioners, Nurses, Nurse Midwives and Nutritionists) from teaching hospitals from several countries together for 3 weeks of lactation management education and skill development and 1 week of planning a program that they would undertake upon returning home. A follow-up visit was provided to their home site at the invitation of the team sometime after their program was underway. The conversion of the SDLP to an independent nonprofit organization, Wellstart International, and a move to a nearby but separate location occurred in 1985.

A primary objective of LMEP was to create a “cascade” of skilled and knowledgeable leaders in medical, nursing and nutrition education that could make needed changes in their curriculum as well as the services provided to mothers and babies that would promote successful breastfeeding. The program was considered quite successful and in the 15 years of continuation, 655 health care providers from 55 countries (including the United States) became Wellstart Associates. A follow-up study of 40 of these Associates undertaken at the request of UNICEF in 2003 suggested that the program through the cascade of training approach, had changed the care given to mother-baby pairs in hundreds of hospitals, modified curriculum in a significant number of professional training programs, contributed to hundreds of thousands of secondary training events and contributed to the global expertise regarding lactation management.

Since 1985, Wellstart, as an organization or through staff participation has also been very active and influential in many global events related to the protection, promotion and support of optimal infant and young child feeding. These include the development of the “Ten Steps”, Innocenti Declaration of 1990 and 2005, WABA and World Breastfeeding Week, The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, The United States Breastfeeding Committee and the development of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.

Since the conversion of the SDLP to Wellstart International in 1985, the organization has maintained an office in California but has had additional offices in Washington DC, and Cairo, Egypt. At the present time administrative tasks are carried out in California and programmatic activities are planned and coordinated in Vermont


 

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