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Six hospitals certified as baby-friendly

Six hospitals were Monday accredited with Baby-Friendly Hospital Status as the Ministry of Public Health continues to implement the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Public Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.

The Six Hospitals which were accredited yesterday are: the West Demerara Regional Hospital, Davis Memorial Hospital, Mahaicony Cottage Hospital, Mahdia District Hospital, Lethem Regional Hospital and the Upper Demerara Hospital.

Among the criteria to attain Baby friendly hospital status are to have written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff, inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breast feeding and give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.

Speaking at the accreditation ceremony at the Ocean View International Hotel, Liliendaal, Public Health Minister, Dr. George Norton stressed the importance of breastfeeding.

“The Ministry of Public Health and by extension the Government of Guyana recognizes that breastfeeding is a unique process that provides ideal nutrition for infants and contributes to their growth and development. For this reason, the Food policy Division of the Ministry has collaborated with the WHO and UNICEF to implement the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) here in Guyana,” Norton was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Public Health Ministry.

Dr. Norton pointed out that in 1992, when the Breastfeeding project was launched globally; it was obvious that Guyana’s culture of exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding was on the decline.

“It was no co-incidence that Guyana also had relatively high infant mortality and morbidity rates due to diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory tract infection and malnutrition,” he added.

The overall objective of the breastfeeding project from its inception was therefore to improve the health of infants through the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.

The Co-ordination of the conduct of the BFHI External Assessment was done during the period February to March 2015 and 12 out of the 19 hospitals in the BFHI programme had signaled their readiness to be assessed to determine their BFHI status. Six of these twelve hospitals have now attained Baby Friendly Hospital Status.

“It is noteworthy that Guyana is the only country in the English speaking Caribbean with hospitals accredited with the Baby-Friendly Hospital status. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of those persons who worked tirelessly to ensure that the necessary criteria were met and to urge you to maintain baby-friendly status in those 6 hospitals,” Dr. Norton stated.

The subject minister expressed special thanks to WHO and UNICEF for their invaluable support over the years and urged the remaining hospitals under the BFHI to continue working hard to attain baby-friendly hospital status.

According to him, the aim is to ensure that there are Baby-Friendly hospitals in all of the Regions of Guyana. In addition to the accreditation ceremony, a two day follow up workshop which is in preparation for the next round of BFHI External Assessment was also opened. The next round of BFHI External Assessment proposed to be conducted in June – July 2016 and the reassessment in 2017/2018. Sensitization on the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes, the first 1000 days of life and expanding the Baby-Friendly hospital Initiative are among the key areas of focus of the workshop. Minister Norton urged the participants to take full advantage of this workshop and I wish you successful deliberations.