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Health Facilities Are Vital in Promoting Good Breastfeeding Practices

Print version
05 August 2010
Press release

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 5 August 2010 – 35 maternity hospitals, family clinics and rural health points in Uzbekistan were certified as baby-friendly and implementing ‘10 Steps for Successful Breastfeeding,’ the Ministry of Health and UNICEF announced at a joint press conference on the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) from 1-7 August.

“Breastfeeding is the best choice for a newborn and infant’s healthy growth and development. It’s absolutely vital that healthcare workers offer full support to new mothers to make this happen from the very moment their babies are born. We welcome the efforts of the Ministry of Health to strengthen breastfeeding in all maternity hospitals and primary care facilities throughout Uzbekistan,” said Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Deputy Representative.

This year the WBW focuses on the vital role of health facilities in breastfeeding promotion. It is marked under the theme Breastfeeding: Just 10 Steps – the Baby Friendly Way by the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), UNICEF and many countries around the globe, including Uzbekistan.

10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding

It is necessary that every health facility providing healthcare for pregnant women, new mothers and newborns implements the 10 steps, first promulgated by WHO and UNICEF in 1989, to:

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 30 minutes of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together - 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

Uzbekistan has added 11th step for successful breastfeeding. The 11th step is for maternity hospitals and departments only and requires them to guide two primary care facilities in their neighborhood on all issues relating to breastfeeding. This helps ensure sustainability and continuity in breastfeeding promotion.

Breastfeeding support in maternity facilities should also be complemented by primary health care, community and workplace support to reach mothers beyond their first few days in the maternity ward and information for mothers who deliver their babies at home.

Healthcare professionals have a leading role in encouraging new mothers to breastfeed their newborns soon after birth. The information that mothers receive from healthcare providers exerts a strong influence on their attitudes to breastfeeding.

Optimal breastfeeding in the first two years of life, and particularly exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, can have the single largest impact on child survival with the potential to prevent 12 to 15 per cent of all under five deaths. Breastfeeding also provides infants with protection from infectious diseases like diarrhea, respiratory illness, boosts the immune systems of young children and helps protect them from chronic conditions later in life. It also promotes the emotional bond between the mother and young baby.

While the benefits for children are beyond question, the global rate of exclusive breastfeeding is still only around 37 per cent. In Uzbekistan, initiation of breastfeeding is widespread but exclusive breastfeeding rate is merely 26 percent (MICS 2006). Lack of correct information to mothers about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, household occupations, insufficient support from family and free marketing of breast milk substitutes by companies manufacturing formula milk poses significant challenges to exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and its continuation with appropriate complementary feeding till the child is two years old. Sustained family support is essential for breastfeeding mothers for protection and promotion of breast feeding.

Since 1996, UNICEF has been assisting the Government of Uzbekistan and partners to increase support and encouragement for breastfeeding mothers, including through health workers, counsellors, mother-to-mother support groups, legislators, community social networks and families. It is equally important to adopt and implement the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes in the country, an effort UNICEF has technically supported across the world.

Advocacy for breastfeeding and its robust promotion are an integral component of GoU and UNICEF health programmes. Over the last two years alone, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative as a component of the mother and child health strategies has helped to establish good breastfeeding practices in health facilities of Andijan, Namangan, Syrdarya, Djizzak, Samarkand, Navoi, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions. More than 3,000 healthcare providers were trained on breastfeeding and now enthusiastically share new knowledge and information with their co-workers, relatives, new mothers and the wider community.

World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week was first celebrated in 1992 and is now observed in over 120 countries by UNICEF and its partners, including the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and WHO. The aim is to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development. Continued breastfeeding after six months, for up to two years of age or beyond, combined with safe and appropriate complementary feeding, is the optimal approach to child feeding.

For further information, please contact:

Kamola Salikhova, National Breastfeeding Programme Coordinator,

Republican Specialized Scientific-Practical Centre of Pediatrics

+ 99871 2294122

Bakhodir Rahimov, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Uzbekistan

+ 99871 233 9735,

Nigina Baykabulova, Communication Officer, UNICEF Uzbekistan

+ 998 71 233 9735,

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