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KINGSTON — Four hospitals are to be certified by the Ministry of Health (MOH), as a part of its commitment to the Baby- Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI).

The facilities are the St. Ann’s Bay and Alexandria Hospitals, St. Ann, May Pen Hospital, Clarendon and the Mandeville Hospital, Manchester.

Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank session on Wednesday September 7, the Ministry’s Director of Nutrition, Sharmaine Edwards, said it is hoped that, eventually, all institutions involved in the delivery and care of babies will be certified.

She said that this is in keeping with national policy on breastfeeding, which stipulates that all medical facilities caring for children must be certified “baby-friendly” operations.

"We have ten (10) institutions that were certified between 1996 and 2001, and we are actually on a drive now to get those institutions recertified, and to certify four additional facilities, which we are hoping to complete by March of next year,” Mrs. Edwards said.

She pointed out, however, that only eight of the 10 institutions already certified are still offering the services.

Mrs. Edwards added that it is mandatory for staff members and heads of medical facilities to receive training, as part of the certification process. However, the training which should take place over three days usually takes three months, due to inadequate staffing at some of the facilities.

The Ministry’s drive to certify medical facilities will ensure that they operate in line with national policy on breastfeeding, as well as standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF). Certification is also an effort to promote breastfeeding among lactating women in Jamaica.

 

By Toni-Ann Russell – PRO