SM MEGAMALL, Pasig City, 14 March 2006 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. today congratulated important steps taken by SM Supermalls to be the first “breastfeeding-friendly mall” in the country. The three organizations officially launched the first breastfeeding station in SM Megamall.
Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. (CFB), an organisation that promotes family support for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, spearheaded the project in late 2005 based on the lack of suitable places to breastfeed in one of the nation’s largest retail spaces. CFB had received reports of breastfeeding mothers being sent to the mall’s comfort rooms to breastfeed.
SM Supermalls responded by instituting a breastfeeding policy and conducting an orientation dubbed “Bringing Back the Breastfeeding Culture” in January to disseminate the policy with its local and international branch managers, security and maintenance personnel in attendance. Mall managers also allocated the breastfeeding station in an easy to find location and are in the process of providing additional assistance for breastfeeding mothers and children.
UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and thereafter, continued breastfeeding along with complementary foods for two years and beyond, and helps national governments and other sectors of society adopt favourable policies that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
“We appreciate SM Supermalls’ receptiveness to this initiative and the efforts of Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. for providing the technical support. By taking steps to become the first breastfeeding-friendly mall, SM Megamall is setting an excellent example of corporate social responsibility wherein the very culture of a business changes to promote a common good,” said Dr. Nicholas Alipui, Country Representative of UNICEF.
Children for Breastfeeding, Inc. hopes that through this pilot project other mall chains will realize the benefits of being a breastfeeding-friendly mall, and raise awareness of the public about breastfeeding.
Not breastfeeding is responsible for 16,000 child deaths in the Philippines every year. The lack of breastfeeding also contributes to malnutrition. Formula-feeding makes children more vulnerable to a long list of diseases, including those that will appear in adulthood, such as diabetes. The average duration of exclusive breastfeeding in the Philippines went down from 1.4 months in 1998 to a mere 24 days in 2003 – a far cry from the recommended six months.
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