Alan Blyth Hospital in Ladismith Receives International Accreditation
Alan Blyth Hospital celebrated its international Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation by hosting a ceremony on Monday, 13 February 2012.
The BFHI is a global campaign launched in 1992 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and is based on the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Maternity facilities are assessed using globally established criteria and those that meet all of the criteria may be accredited as baby-friendly. In South Africa, the BFHI was launched in 1994 and St Monica's Maternity Hospital in Cape Town was the first hospital to be accredited as baby-friendly. Nineteen hospitals in the Western Cape Province have received this accreditation.
At the ceremony, also attended by the Mayor of Ladismith and other councillors, Western Cape Health Minister Theuns Botha said, "For a small hospital in a rural town, this is a globally recognised achievement of which both parents and professionals can be proud of. The accreditation will benefit the whole community, also in the long term, and is an outstanding example that when the community works together with the health services that government offers, we are better together."
Minister Botha said the Western Cape has 74 public and private hospitals with maternity wards, of which only 19 boasts the BFHI accreditation. Seventeen of the 19 are public hospitals. The accreditation requires an understanding of quality care to mothers and newborn babies, and a commitment to the acknowledged benefits of breastfeeding.
Alan Blyth Hospital scored only three out of the ten points with their first internal evaluation and one out of three for applying successful breastfeeding. With determination and hard work from all staff, the hospital was awarded with the status in November 2010.
In the Western Cape Province, BFHI (Child health) is one of the eight common goals that are set as priority by the Department of Health. It is also a measure of the quality of care. All facilities that render services to mothers and babies are thus challenged to make the BFHI a reality. The BFHI supports the right of mothers to choose how to feed and care for their babies. Healthcare professionals have the responsibility to care, encourage best practice and to ensure that parents are given appropriate, accurate and unbiased information to allow them to make fully informed choices. In the interest of supporting informed choice, all educational materials used in baby-friendly facilities are expected to comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:
- Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all healthcare staff.
- Train all healthcare staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
- Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
- Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within the first half-hour of birth.
- Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
- Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, not even sips of water unless medically indicated.
- Practise rooming in - that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
- Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
- Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
- Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Breastfeeding is acknowledged to be the best way of feeding and caring for infants and is important for infant development, while also providing benefits to the mother. Research findings on the introduction of BFHI in health facilities have shown a reduction in infant mortality, particularly as a result of diarrhoea and respiratory infection.