HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Child Health Division (CHD) at the Health Ministry is all set to reinforce Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in maternity hospitals starting this fiscal. The initiative is meant to mobilise maternity hospitals for the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding from birth.
The BFHI initiative comes at a time when seven baby-friendly hospitals have been found to be neglecting 10 specific steps of successful breastfeeding as the initiative demands.
Of the 22 hospitals trained for BFHI activities in 1994-1996, seven hospitals, namely Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Maharjgunj , Maternity Hospital (Thapathali), Patan Hospital (Lagankhel), Bhaktapur Hospital, Hetauda Hospital, Koshi Zonal Hospital (Biratnagar) and BPKIHS (Dharan), were certified as Baby Friendly Hospitals on the basis of external and internal evaluators’ assessment in 1997-98 through Nepal Paediatric Society.
The first assessment of these hospitals since then, conducted in December 2011 under the leadership of Professor Dr Prakash Sundar Shrestha, showed the hospitals negligence towards implementation of the BFHI policy.
Staff were not trained for BFHI activities and mother support group or mother friendly care was lacking in these hospitals. The study showed pre- test counselling on HIV testing was not done for all pregnant mothers. Hospital staff were not aware of international code of Breast Milk Substitutes (BMS), freely available in and around the hospital and market areas.
According to the assessment, mothers were not given enough information about breastfeeding problems before their discharge from the hospital. The breastfeeding counsellor was found only at Patan hospital.
Furthermore, none of these hospitals had display of 10 steps of breastfeeding policy in the hospital compound.
The policy teaches mothers to breastfeed and ways to maintain lactation even if they are separated from their infants.
It also helps mothers initiate breastfeeding within half an hour of birth and give newborn infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
Raj Kumar Pokhrel, chief of nutrition section at the CHD, said that the government is reinforcing the concept of BFHI to promote exclusive breastfeeding. He said they will provide training to all concerned staff in these hospitals on the BFHI policy, mother-friendly care and infant feeding in context of HIV infection.
“Due to the lack of human resources and budget, the government failed to regularly supervise and monitor the implementation of the policy,” said the chief. He said the staff will also be oriented on the International Code of Breast Milk Substitute. According to Nepal Demographic and Health Survey-2011, 70 per cent of Nepali children under six months are being exclusively breastfed and 98 per cent of children are ever breastfed.