KINGSTON — A number of mothers at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH) in Kingston received a reminder of the importance of breastfeeding, at the launch of Jamaica’s first breastfeeding education video, by the Ministry of Health and UNICEF at the hospital on Wednesday September 21.
In a message from the Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Eva Lewis Fuller, stressed that breastfeeding was an invaluable gift that every newborn has the right to.
He noted that the sharing of knowledge and experience across cultures, genders and generations would enable wider coverage and breastfeeding success.
He pointed out that communications is an essential part of protecting, promoting, and supporting breastfeeding. Therefore, in addition to its traditional use of print and electronic media to reach the target audience, the Ministry is strengthening existing partnerships with the media and other stakeholders to promote the desired behaviour that will lead to the cultural and social change toward this critical aspect of infant care.
He said that the Ministry recognizes that grandmothers also play a critical role in enhancing the breastfeeding experience, and this year they are being targeted, to ensure that they have the best information on breastfeeding and child care feeding to impart the knowledge to young parents.
A training programme for grandmothers has been implemented in St. Thomas and Kingston and St. Andrew.
“They are now empowered and better able to impact information to young mothers and fathers on child care feeding and breastfeeding, to ensure optimal health of our children. This will be introduced across parishes in the new programme, which is coming up this year,” Mr. Spencer stated.
UNICEF’s Country Representative, Robert Fuderich, emphasized the need for a broad-based, multi-sectoral thrust to encourage and facilitate breastfeeding. He pointed out that through exclusive breastfeeding and complimentary breastfeeding, infant mortality rates, under five years old, could be lowered by some 19 per cent.
He noted that UNICEF has partnered with the Ministry to establish and support a number of critical initiatives to promote and increase breastfeeding. These include a National Infant and Young Child Feeding Policy, the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and public education tools for families and employers (such as the breastfeeding video). UNICEF has also donated two neonatal ventilators to the VJH.
This year, Jamaica is celebrating National Breastfeeding Week, September 18-23, under the theme, “Talk to Me! Breastfeeding a 3D Experience”, which will target mothers, pregnant women, women of childbearing age, grandmothers, families and communities.
Twenty organisations were presented with copies of the video, including: the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation; the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, the Early Childhood Commission, the Jamaica Employers’ Federation, the Jamaica Council of Churches, media houses, academic institutions and service clubs.
National Breastfeeding Week activities continue with a breastfeeding health education expose at the Chapleton Health Centre in Clarendon, beginning at 10 am, on Thursday September 22.
By Alphea Saunders, JIS Reporter