Bishop Lavis MOU Receives International Baby-Friendly Accreditation
Bishop Lavis Midwife Obstetrics Unit (MOU) celebrated its internationally recognised baby-friendly status with the official receipt of their baby-friendly accreditation certificate from the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), launched by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992, is an accreditation process that requires a hospital or maternity facility to reach specific standards related to the Ten Steps for 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, "The Western Cape Government's strategic objective of creating wellness sounds like a highly philosophical objective, but this objective and the baby-friendly accreditation speaks directly to the socio-economic challenges faced by this community on a daily basis."
"The focus in primary healthcare is on the growth of health and wellness and the prevention of disease, in particular maternal and child health, chronic diseases of lifestyle including the impact of substance abuse, mental well-being and infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis."
The Ten Steps for 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 one 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 breastmilk, 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.
"As part of this objective, and our efforts to reduce the mortality of children under the age of five years, the department is running a 'saving mothers and children' plan with a Road to Health Booklet to monitor the newborn baby's health and development right from birth and, in this process, detect and treat disease as early as possible."
"On this road towards child health, we can be proud that 18 of our hospitals have been awarded baby-friendly status. The Western Cape has 74 public and private hospitals with maternity wards, of which only 20 boasts the BFHI accreditation."
"Bishop Lavis CHC started working towards baby-friendly accreditation status with the formulation and implementation of the infant feeding policy to change the care practices in 2008. This facility has undergone at least three internal assessments after the completion of a self-appraisal. Their determination certainly deserves recognition," said Minister Botha.
Recent studies show that mothers benefit greatly from having full knowledge of the significant benefits of breastfeeding for their newborn babies; to increase that knowledge, the best place to start is with hospitals and healthcare facilities.
In the Western Cape, child health is one of the eight common goals that are set as priority by the department. 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 baby-friendly initiative supports the right of mothers to choose how to feed and care for their babies. Healthcare professionals have the responsibility to 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 choices, all educational materials used in baby-friendly facilities are expected to comply with the international code of marketing of breastmilk substitutes.
Breastfeeding is acknowledged as 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 been associated with a reduction in infant mortality, particularly as a result of diarrhoea and respiratory infection.
The Western Cape currently boasts 20 baby-friendly accredited facilities, of which 18 are public healthcare facilities.