Exclusive breastfeeding is a distinctive process that provides perfect nutrition for infants and contributes to their growth and development. The Public Health Ministry will be heightening promotion and awareness of the need for mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton has noted that the breastfeeding programme will now reach out to all aspects of monitoring to foster a more efficient breastfeeding rate.
Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton (Right) receives the final report on the assessment of hospitals working towards Baby Friendly Hospital Status from Lead Consultant, Paula Trotter
“The programme has now been revised and updated to reinforce the international code of marketing of breast milk substitute, support mothers who are not breastfeeding, provide modules on HIV and infant feeding and mother friendly care and to give more guidance and monitoring for assessment,” Minister Norton stated.
The expansion of exclusive breastfeeding awareness is currently being facilitated through accreditation of a number of hospitals to baby friendly status. Eleven (11) hospitals attained baby friendly hospital status under the Ministry of Public Health’s Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative (BHFI). This initiative, in collaboration with World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), seeks to recognise health institutions adhering to the breastfeeding policy.
The 11 hospitals that were accredited are Suddie, Oscar Joseph, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, New Amsterdam, Skeldon, West Demerara Regional Hospital, Mahaicony Cottage Hospital, Mahdia District Hospital, Lethem Regional Hospital, the Upper Demerara Hospital and Davis Memorial which is a private institution.
These hospitals were accredited after an assessment was carried out, identifying hospitals promoting and adhering to written breastfeeding policies. Each of these hospitals was presented with a report of the assessment.
A formal session was held on Thursday, to hand over the final report of the assessment to the Public Health Ministry and the representatives of those hospitals that were a part of the assessment. The evaluation was carried out by lead consultant of the (BHFI) assessment, Paula Trotter of Dominica.
Trotter mentioned that these hospitals’ routines are to be fully supportive of the successful initiation and establishment of breastfeeding. Trotter also highlighted the 10 steps or recommended practices for the hospitals’ maternal health staff.
Some of these steps that are required are; to train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement the policy, inform pregnant women about the benefits and management of breast feeding and help mothers initiate breast feeding within half an hour of birth among others.
Minister George Norton after receiving the report assured that other hospitals involved in the care of infants that have not been accredited will soon be ‘baby friendly’.
National Breastfeeding Co-ordinator, Ninian Blair presents report to representative of the New Amsterdam Hospital
The BFHI was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
UNICEF stated it had recognised that there is an alarmingly low rate for exclusive breast feeding in Guyana.
Child Survival Development Officer, Cornelly McAlmont said that, “UNICEF would do what you call the Multi-Indicator Cluster Survey. This was completed about two years ago and one of the things we gathered would have been information in relation breast feeding especially exclusive breast feeding. The MICS report indicated that they are 23.3% in relation to exclusive breast feeding rates.”
McAlmont said, “We need to consider what the inhibiting factors to exclusive breast feeding are. We need to also consider what are the enabling factors to exclusive breast feeding and when we know these things what we need to do is to craft our messages, craft our counselling activities to make sure that we address exclusive breastfeeding counselling, but most importantly to make sure that we continue to give our women the confidence they need to support breastfeeding.”