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The third biggest maternity ward in Croatia was awarded title of “Baby-friendly hospital”

ZAGREB, 29 July 2013 - On the occasion of the launch of the 23rd World Breastfeeding Week, the third biggest maternity ward (by number of deliveries) in Croatia has been awarded the “Baby-friendly hospital” title.

Croatian Minister of Health, Rajko Ostojic, with dr. Vesna Šerić, Hospital Director, uncovering a "Baby-friendly h
ospital" plaque at the entrance to the maternity ward “KBC Sestre milosrdnice" - UNICEF Croatia / Davor Kovacevic / 2013

During the award giving ceremony, Minister of Health, Rajko Ostojic, thanked UNICEF for its continuous, support to the promotion of breast-feeding over the past 20 years. Today, the majority of children are being born in Baby Friendly Hospitals, as 28 out of 31 maternity awards carry the title of Baby Friendly Hospital.

In 2012, more than 3000 babies were born in "Vinogradska“ hospital in Zagreb. In a survey commissioned by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in 2011 about the quality of care in the maternity wards around the country, this particular maternity ward has been highly ranked by mothers regarding quality of staff approach. In the past year, the Ministry supported the refurbishment of the maternity ward to ensure implementation of rooming-in, one of the “10 steps to successful breastfeeding”, global criteria within Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.

"This year we mark the 20th Anniversary of the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative in Croatia. It has taken us so long to stop separating mothers from babies; from 2013 all maternity wards can practice rooming-in. Our next challenge is sustainability and keeping the standards as high.“ said dr. Josip Grguric, National Coordinator of the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.

Minister of Health, Rajko Ostojic, is giving mothers UNICEF packages on young child development- UNICEF Croatia / Davor Kovacevic / 2013

The World Breastfeeding Week will be marked in maternity wards throughout the country as well as in more than 130 breastfeeding support groups that have grown with the support of visiting nurses to the implementation of Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.

The theme of this year's World Breastfeeding Week, "Close to Mothers“, is particularly relevant to the Croatian context as high breastfeeding rates of 78% achieved in the first two months rapidly decrease within the third month, when they tend to fall below 55%.

In 2012, UNICEF has launched ”The Counselling centres – friends of breastfeeding“ initiative to promote the support of breastfeeding through primary health care centres. Additional support has been provided through the parental help line “Little Phone”. In one year since its establishment, the UNICEF-supported help line received more than 5000 calls, from which 25% were related to support in breastfeeding. 



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