The Eastern Regional Health directorate has undertaken assessment of 30 facilities including hospitals, health centres, private maternity homes and CHPS compounds to be designated as Baby Friendly Hospital Initiatives (BFHI).

The BFHI is an international initiative that necessitates reform in the routine practices of maternity healthcare professionals, based on completion of the ‘ten steps to successful breastfeeding” and already the Eastern Region has 119 BFHI facilities, the highest in the country.

The assessment would therefore enable the facilities to implement the ten steps to successful breastfeeding protocols and to end the practice of distribution of free and low-cost supplies of breast milk substitutes to maternity wards and hospitals.

This was made known in an interview at the People for Health (P4H) project, being implemented by a consortium comprising SEND-Ghana, Pensplusbytes and the Ghana News Agency (GNA) with funding from the USAID.

The project aims at promoting equity and reducing health inequalities by strengthening the capacity of both government and civil society organisations for mutual accountability in the areas of HIV and AIDS, maternal health, malaria, sanitation and nutrition.

The ten steps to successful breastfeeding at the BFHIs includes having a written breastfeeding policy that routinely communicates to all health care staff; inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding; as well as help mothers to initiate breastfeeding within half an hour after delivery and to give newborns no food or drink other than breast milk.

Throwing more light on the assessment, the Eastern Regional Nutrition Officer, Mr Bismark Sarkodie, said breast milk has been accepted globally as the most appropriate and nutritious food for babies from day one to six months after which complementing feeding would be added.

He explained that breast milk was important and critical to addressing severe acute malnutrition and many infections in children, and indicated that the GHS was committed to ensuring that all the BFHIs adhered strictly to the breastfeeding protocols.

In order to ensure that such facilities complied with the protocols, staff at the facilities were trained periodically and routine monitoring involving chats and interviews with the clients were part of the initiative.

He said even though the nutrition and child survival rate in terms of management of acute malnutrition under five years was doing well in the Region, exclusive breastfeeding and early initiation of breast milk remained a challenge, hence the assessment of the facilities to ensure that the intended purpose of designating the facilities as BFHI was achieved squarely.

Source: GNA/NewsGhana.com.gh

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