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Vila Central Hospital is Mother-Baby Friendly

© UNICEF Pacific/jhing/2011

PORT VILA, December 13, 2012 - Vila Central Hospital was awarded the Mother- and Baby Friendly Hospital status today by the Ministry of Health and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). 

In recognising the practices and policies adopted by the hospital making it supportive of maternal and child health, Dr. Isiye Ndombi, UNICEF Pacific Representative said “paramount amongst these policies is the protection of breastfeeding as the only source of food and fluid for the first six months of a baby’s life.  Timely, adequate, safe and appropriate complementary feeding from the age of six months should be introduced whilst continuing to breastfeed up to two years.”

Minister of Health, Mr. Don Ken said “the Mother-Baby Initiative helps to promote a wellness model of maternity care that will improve birth outcomes and substantially reduce costs. Where there are well looked after and healthier mothers and babies, fewer numbers of mothers and children will be visiting clinics for sicknesses such as diarrhoea and other preventable diseases. 

“UNICEF congratulates Vila Central Hospital and the Ministry of Health for achieving the standard of these low-cost yet high-impact interventions.  These interventions ensure creation of the right environment for optimum nutrition and a head start for the children of Vanuatu (MBFHI),” said Dr. Ndombi.

He added that “breastfeeding is the precious gift of nature. It helps to prevent a number of diseases in childhood and later in life. The economic savings of breastfeeding are critical not only for governments, but also for poor families who spend large parts of their incomes on infant formula and in seeking treatment for childhood illness.”

“The Government of Vanuatu understands the importance of breastfeeding and the protection it offers from infections, allergies and conditions like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancer that rob the national budgets of millions of dollars. In achieving mother-baby-friendly status, we hope to encourage breastfeeding and ensuring childbirth is safe and healthy for all women,” said Honourable Minister Ken.

In expressing the benefits of the MBFH initiative, Honourable Minister Ken said “when children grow up healthy, they learn better at school and when they become adults, will be able to contribute meaningfully to the country’s development. This is the vision we see for the Ministry of Health and will continue to support this initiative in all six of our national hospitals.”

UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated the mother-baby friendly hospital initiative, to ensure that all maternity facilities support mothers in making the best birthing and infant-feeding choice for them, free of commercial interests. 

Dr Ndombi gave his assurances of UNICEF’s continued support to the Government and people of Vanuatu as they seek to develop, promote, protect and support the wellbeing of children and their families.

“We must ensure that every child is given the best start in life. There is no better way than for a baby to experience the immediate bonding with the mother and to be provided with all the nutrients necessary to ensure a proper foundation in life,” he said.

“If proper breastfeeding is practiced and the mother- and baby-friendly steps are sustained and expanded, child mortality in Vanuatu will drop,” said Dr. Ndombi.

For more information, please contact Communications Specialist- External Relations, Donna Hoerder, UNICEF on (679) 3236 100 or (679) 9265 518 


UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: 



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