Riversdale Hospital's International Accreditation Praised
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, unveiled the internationally-recognised Mother-and-Baby-Friendly plaque at Riversdale Hospital on 25 January 2013.
The Mother-and-Baby-Friendly initiative was launched in 1992 by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is an accreditation process that requires a hospital or maternity facility to reach specific hospital standards related to the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. It is a global effort to encourage and recognise hospitals and birthing centres that offer an optimal level of care for breastfeeding women and their babies.
Minister Botha said at the ceremony that the Western Cape’s strategic objective of wellness aims to achieve the best health outcomes for the 6 million people in our province who is dependent on public health services. Women's health and the decrease of child mortality are among our five priority programmes. The promotion of breastfeeding is important to grow healthy children. In the province there are 74 health facilities with maternity units - public and private. Of the 74 only 26 have the mother-and-baby-friendly accreditation, and 24 of the 26 are public health facilities. That certainly shows how committed we are to promote breastfeeding.”
Riversdale Hospital has 16 beds in the maternity ward and handles about 45 births per month. Staff in the maternity ward started in 2007 with intensive training to obtain the accreditation. Minister Botha said: "I am very proud that the hospital in my home town obtained this international accreditation. It is an achievement that requires the dedication and hard work of every member of the maternity-ward team.”
The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:
1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health-care staff.
2. Train all health-care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one half-hour of birth.
5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and maintain lactation, even if they should be separated from their infants.
6. Give new-born infants no food or drink other than breast milk, not even sips of water, unless medically indicated.
7. Practice rooming in, that is, allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (“dummies”) to breastfeeding infants.
10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.
Recent studies show that mothers benefit greatly from having a complete knowledge of the significant benefits of breastfeeding for their new-born babies. To increase that knowledge, the best place to start is with healthcare facilities and hospitals.
In the Western Cape, child health is one of eight common goals prioritised by the Department. It is also a measure of the quality of care. All facilities that render services to mothers and babies are challenged to make the MBFI a reality. The MBFI supports the right of mothers to choose how to feed and care for their babies. Healthcare professionals have the responsibility to encourage the best practices in infant feeding and to ensure that parents are given appropriate, accurate, and unbiased information to allow them to make fully informed choices. With a view to support informed choice, all educational materials used in MBFI facilities must comply with the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.
Breastfeeding is acknowledged to be the best way of feeding and caring for infants. It is important for infant development and also holds benefits for the mother. Research findings on the introduction of MBFI in health facilities have associated it with a reduction in infant deaths, particularly those due to diarrhea and respiratory infection.