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Expanding breastfeeding support to primary health care in Croatia

© UNICE Bulgaria / 2011
National BFHI Coordinator, Dr. Josip Grguric hands over a certificate to Dr. Marija Catipovic from the paediatrics dispensary in Bjelovar, Croatia.

ZAGREB, Croatia, 4 August 2011 — On the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week, UNICEF Croatia has launched a new initiative expanding breast-feeding support through primary health care. The first six dispensaries or clinics today were awarded Baby and Breastfeeding Friendly certificates by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The award means that every staff in the dispensaries has been trained in breastfeeding support and they are helping mothers to breastfeed on a daily basis, including organising support groups within dispensaries. Also, all dispensaries are fully compliant with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

This new model of support for breast-feeding is the result of a two- year project, responding to the results of the recent UNICEF supported survey showing that 50 per cent of mothers in Croatia stop exclusive breastfeeding during the first month of their baby’s life. UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding for newborn`s first six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years with complimentary feeding.

While the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative helped increase breast-feeding rates in the maternity wards, the survey called for increased efforts in supporting mothers during the first month of baby’s life through the primary health care.

Since the relaunch of the Baby Friendly Hospitals initiative in 2007, half of all maternity wards in Croatia have been awarded Baby Friendly status. Almost all maternity wards have ensured rooming-in of mothers with their newborns. The initiative has also lead to a growing number of breastfeeding support groups. There are now 120 groups throughout the country. Most are initiated by the visiting nurses but are fully led by experienced breast-feeding mothers.

Since 2010, UNICEF with partners distributed more than 30,000 educational DVDs on breast-feeding titled “Milky way – a path to successful breast-feeding” produced by the national Parents’ association “Roda”.

Breast-feeding promotion and support in Croatia is fully supported by voluntary donation from companies and individuals in Croatia and the Croatian Government. Since 2008 UNICEF has raised more than U$400,000 for this programme.

UNICEF and the Croatian National Post Office launched joint campaign in June 2011 called Telegrams for a Happier Start in Life. Through this initiative, the Croatian National Post Office will donate 45 cents from every congratulatory telegram sent for the birth of a child.  The tradition of sending telegrams for special occasions is still widespread throughout the country.





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