As part of activities marking World Breastfeeding Week, the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) with support from UNICEF and WHO recently organised two days training workshop for the health facility technical staff of Essau District Hospital on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. The training was attended by Nurses, Midwives, laboratory technicians, and Pharmacy staff and centered on the concept of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI). The two days training was held at the Regional Health Directorate of Essau Health Region of North Bank Region. The purpose is to help staff to support the protection and promote breastfeeding of newborn babies at the facility level.
BFHI started in 1992 at Essau, Bansang, and Bwiam in North Bank, Central River, and West Coast Regions. It is evident that non of the piloted hospitals is designated as BFHI as they have to fulfill 10 steps as 80% must be fulfilled before the facility can be fully
In the overview of infant feeding situation, BFHI is a key component of quality maternal and newborn, benefits of breastfeeding and how breastfeeding works, maternal health, breast and nipple conditions, postnatal practices to support breastfeeding, milk supply challenges, antenatal preparation for breastfeeding, facility practices, implementing 10 steps.
The training which was made in form of a visual presentation covered early Initiation of Breastfeeding and attaching a baby to the breast, positions for breastfeeding, how to express breast milk, hospital breastfeeding policy review Action, Concerns, Solutions, and action plan development.
Haddy Crookes, Senior Program Officer Coordinating of BFHI at NaNA described the capacity development of the technical staff of the hospital as crucial. She added that the concept of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative is well understood by all. She noted it would help to support, protect and promote breastfeeding and share the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding at the facility and at home.
Madam Crookes said breastfeeding should be every one business and she called on staff to follow the 10 steps developed by NaNA and partners in promoting breastfeeding at the facility level and especially for mothers with babies for the first time.
Fabakary Bass, Nutrition Field Coordinator at NaNA noted that the training aimed to bridge the gap and to ensure staff at the hospital level support each other by encouraging mothers, escorts and parents to value the importance of breast milk and in particular practicing exclusive breastfeeding.
He noted that the involvement and participation of all would contribute to ensuring the hospital’s attainment of international standards of protection, Support, and Promotion of breastfeeding towards the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative. He noted that NaNA and partners will monitor progress made by the facility in meeting standards before the hospital can be designated as Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Sira Conteh Officer In Charge of Essau District Hospital said the training will strengthen health care services, noting that the facility developed a quality checklist to ensure proper monitoring of newborn and their mothers.
According to her, the training will add more value to Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and disclosed that the hospital management and staff are very much committed to being designated as Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative by UNICEF, WHO, and the Ministry of Health. She used the moment to call on mothers to promote breastfeeding as it helps the growth and development of children.
Commenting on maternal death the facility recorded 1 maternal death and whilst in 2022 so far 1 death.
Madam Conteh used the moment to call on the Ministry of Health and her development partners to provide them with a standard sea ambulance to facilitate emergency referral of patients and including pregnant women, as all surgical cases are referred to Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.