Health Facilities Are Vital in Promoting Good Breastfeeding Practices
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 5 August 2010 – 35 maternity hospitals, family clinics and rural health points were certified as baby-friendly and implementing ‘10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding,’ the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan and UNICEF announced at a joint press conference on the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) from 1-7 August.
“Breastfeeding is the best choice for a young child’s healthy growth and development. It’s absolutely vital that healthcare workers offer full support to new mothers to make this happen from the very moment their babies are born. We welcome the efforts of the Ministry of Health to strengthen breastfeeding in all maternity hospitals and primary care facilities throughout Uzbekistan,” said Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Deputy Representative.
This year the WBW focuses on the vital role of health facilities in breastfeeding promotion. It is marked under the theme Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps – the Baby Friendly Way by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), UNICEF and many countries around the globe, including Uzbekistan.
10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding
The 10 steps, first promulgated by WHO and UNICEF in 1989, call on every facility providing healthcare for pregnant women, new mothers and newborns to:
The 10 Steps should be the standard practice in all maternity facilities. Breastfeeding support in maternity facilities should also be complimented by primary health care, community and workplace support to reach mothers beyond their first few days in the maternity ward and information for mothers who deliver their babies at home. In Uzbekistan the list of steps for successful breastfeeding has been expanded. The 11th step is for maternity hospitals and departments only and requires them to guide two primary care facilities in their neighborhood on all issues relating to breastfeeding. This helps ensure sustainability in breastfeeding promotion and continuity of care for future and new mothers.
Healthcare professionals have a leading role in encouraging new mothers to breastfeed their newborns soon after birth. The information that mothers receive from healthcare providers exerts a strong influence on their attitudes to breastfeeding. Optimal breastfeeding in the first two years of life, and particularly exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, can have the single largest impact on child survival with the potential to prevent 12 to 15 per cent of all under five deaths. Breastfeeding also provides infants with protection from infectious diseases like diarrhea, respiratory illness, boosts the immune systems of young children and helps protect them from chronic conditions later in life. It also promotes the emotional bond between the mother and young baby.
While the benefits for children are beyond question, the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding is still only around 37 per cent. In Uzbekistan, initiation of breastfeeding is widespread but exclusive breastfeeding rate is as low as 26 percent. Lack of correct information to mothers about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, household occupations, limited support from husband and other family members and free marketing of breast milk substitutes by companies manufacturing formula milk contribute to the failure of exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and its continuation till the child is two years old. Sustained family support is essential for breastfeeding mothers for protection and promotion of breast feeding.
Since 1996, UNICEF has been assisting the Government of Uzbekistan and partners to increase support and encouragement for breastfeeding mothers, including through health workers, counsellors, mother-to-mother support groups, employers, legislators, community social networks and families. It is equally important to adopt and implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes in the country, an effort UNICEF has technically supported across the world.
Advocacy for breastfeeding and its robust promotion are an integral component of GoU and UNICEF health programmes. Over the last two years alone, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative as a component of the mother and child health strategies has helped to establish good breastfeeding practices in health facilities of Andijan, Namangan, Syrdarya, Djizzak, Samarkand, Navoi, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions. More than 3,000 healthcare providers were trained on breastfeeding and now enthusiastically share new knowledge and information with their co-workers, relatives, new mothers and the wider community.
World Breastfeeding Week (1 – 7 August every year)
World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF and its partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and WHO. The aim is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development. Continued breastfeeding after six months, for up to two years of age or beyond, combined with safe and appropriate complementary feeding, is the optimal approach to child feeding.
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