This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health and Director of the Global Health Concentration and of the Office of Public Health Practice at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut. Rafael is an outstanding advocate for breastfeeding, and has dedicated his career to advancing nutrition and breastfeeding practices around the world!
As a researcher, Rafael has focused on public health nutrition and food security, and his research has led to improvements in breastfeeding; iron deficiency anemia among infants (by delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord after birth); household food security measurement and outcomes; and maternal, infant and young child community nutrition education/counseling programs worldwide. He is a world authority on the evidence-base behind the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and community-based breastfeeding peer counseling models. His current global breastfeeding research focuses on the development of evidence-based models for the successful scaling-up of comprehensive breastfeeding programs at the national level.
Rafael is Past President of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML). He has published 200 research articles and over 350 conference abstracts, book chapters, and technical reports. He has been an advisor to maternal-child health and nutrition programs funded by numerous UN Agencies, USA Government Agencies, philanthropic foundations, The World Bank, and governments. He was awarded ISRHML’s Ehrlich-Koldovsky Early Career Investigator award in 1999; was a co-recipient of the 2012 Research and Surveillance Award from the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition; received the Journal of Human Lactation Patricia Martens Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding Research in 2015; and received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico in 2016. He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and his MS in Food Science and his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis.
Check out Rafael’s most recent work: The Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) Toolbox, a guide for countries to assess their readiness to scale-up breastfeeding practices!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).