JIS News

Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer says the breastfeeding campaign must be revitalised, so as to meet the national target of raising the number of mothers who give their children the breast at an early stage.
“This is the way forward to improve our breastfeeding rates and in that same vein, ensure that our children are being provided with the best nutrition during the earliest and most critical stage of their development,” the Minister said in a speech read by Chief Executive Officer of the Mandeville Regional Hospital, Alwyn Miller, at the launch of Breastfeeding Week, held at the Hospital, today (September 20).
The Minister said the benefits of breastfeeding cannot be over emphasised, as when a child is breast-fed he or she automatically becomes protected from various infections and allergies, because breast milk contains antibodies which become the baby’s first immunisation.
“There is also less chance of such a child becoming overfed and his or her bowel movements are made hassle-free due to breast milk’s easily digestible nature,” Mr. Spencer added.
He pointed out that the breastfeeding rate is below the national target of 70 per cent and this needs to be significantly improved.
“The Ministry of Health is taking steps to increase the breastfeeding rate and equipping our health workers with the relevant expertise to provide a supportive environment to help mothers acquire the skills to successfully breastfeed exclusively for six months. This practice should be continued to two years or beyond, with the addition of appropriate complementary foods at six months,” he argued.
Mr. Spencer informed that eight hospitals previously certified as “baby-friendly” are currently being re-assessed to ensure strict adherence to the recommended global standards; four additional institutions with birthing facilities will make changes to facilitate first time certification, and that over 200 hospital staff are being trained in breastfeeding promotion and support, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“The training is being carried out to support Jamaica’s thrust to strengthen the capacity of health systems and health care workers to create a baby friendly environment. Hospitals targeted are the University Hospital of the West Indies, Andrews Memorial, Victoria Jubilee, Princess Margaret, Cornwall Regional, Spanish Town, Linstead, Alexandria and St. Ann’s Bay Hospitals,” he noted.
Breastfeeding Week will be observed from September 19 to 25, under the theme: ‘Breastfeeding Just 10 Steps – The Baby Friendly Way’.

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