Nana Mouskouri promotes breastfeeding in Romanian Maternity Hospital
By Codruta Hedesiu and Raluca Manta
BUCHAREST, Romania, 6 December 2011 - Singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri on her second visit to Bucharest met mothers and their newborns at St. Pantelimon Maternity to promote the importance of breastfeeding through the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Upon arrival, Mouskouri, one of the best-selling artists of all time, was presented with a bouquet of flowers. After replying “Multumesc”, the Romanian for thank you, she began asking the mothers how they felt about their experiences in giving birth and breastfeeding.
“I’m glad to be back in Romania. Since my last visit in 2008, many good things have happened. I’m happy to see all the progress and the wonderful work of the people here. We need to be aware of the fact that children are the future of this world and of Romania,” Mouskouri said on 3 December. “In this hospital, the mother can room-in with her baby after she’s given birth, which fosters bonding and reduces the risk of child abandonment. This hospital has a great responsibility and should get further support.”
Florentina, a 19-year-old girl who gave birth just two days earlier on Romanian National Day to a baby boy, told the singer, “I am proud and happy that he is healthy.” She proceeded to recount her knowledge of early initiation, exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continuation up to two years with supplementary feeding.
Like other mothers in the hospital, Florentina attended a specially designed course for would-be mothers and saw a film on the benefits of breastfeeding through a DVD player provided in each rooms at the maternity ward. Many mothers who gave birth here have breastfeed their children up to two years.
The hospital has been a long-standing partner for UNICEF since 1995 when the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched in Romania. More than 2,000 babies are born in this maternity every year. It was certified as baby-friendly in 2008 and recertified in 2011.
Mouskouri first visited the maternity in 2008 when she came to Romania for a telethon organised by UNICEF in partnership with state broadcaster TVR to raise funds for local maternities. Impressed with the benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child, Mouskouri decided to also donate financially.
She told the mothers and doctors accompanying her that her daughter-in-law had also breastfed her grandson as many women are now more conscious that mothers` milk is the best nutrition for the baby.
Mouskouri also took part in a fundraising dinner organised by UNICEF and the Greek Embassy in Bucharest and raised over EUR 20,000 from the Greek business community in Romania.
UNICEF support for the expansion of the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in Romania has seen the number of certified hospitals grow from zero in 2008 to 31 in 2011. It is estimated that about 40 per cent of all births in Romania now take place in baby-friendly maternities which promote exclusive breastfeeding and international standards and good practices.