Fiji hospitals are all baby-friendly
Fiji - First Pacific Island Nation to Achieve Baby-Friendly Hospital Status for all Twenty-One Hospitals
SUVA, 18 May, 2009 –Rotuma Rural Hospital became the 21st hospital in Fiji to be awarded the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) on Monday May 11, 2009 making Fiji the only Pacific Island Country to achieve Baby- Friendly status across all its hospitals.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Nutrition Specialist, Mrs Seini Kurusiga presented the award on behalf of UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mrs Kurusiga said “Both UNICEF and WHO are proud to share this milestone achievement with the Ministry of Health and the Government of Fiji for one of the simplest interventions and yet challenging tasks of creating the right environment for optimum nutrition resulting in a good start in life for the children of Rotuma and Fiji – the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.”
She added that “the improved survival rate of mothers and particularly children can be achieved through baby friendly hospital initiatives (BFHI) which recognise each mother’s right to make her decision based on full and accurate information about feeding options. Breastfeeding is one of the proven and effective interventions for reducing maternal and new-born disability and mortality.”
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, launched in 1991, is an effort by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure that all maternity facilities whether free standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support.
A maternity facility or hospital is designated 'baby-friendly' when it does not accept free or low-cost breast milk substitutes, feeding bottles or teats, and has implemented 10 specific steps to support successful breastfeeding.
Mrs. Kurusiga reminded the hospital staff of their commitment towards breastfeeding and challenged them to “maintain and enhance standards including the encouragement of breastfeeding culture within workplaces, communities and families.”
Since BFHI began, more than 15,000 facilities in 134 countries have been awarded Baby-Friendly status. In many areas where hospitals have been designated Baby-Friendly, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants, and child health has improved.