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Jordan University Hospital joins Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Aug 02,2018 - Last updated at Aug 02,2018

Staff at the Jordan University Hospital will be trained on the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (Photo courtesy of UNICEF)

AMMAN — The Jordan University Hospital (JUH) on Wednesday launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), which aims at improving neonatal healthcare at the facility as well as protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding among new mothers.

Launched with the support of UNICEF, the initiative builds on the BFHI protocol launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF in 1991, which seeks to strengthen the maternity sections in a 10-step process, in addition to putting an end to the breast milk substitutes handed to mothers at hospitals, and providing neonatal education to staff and mothers across more than 152 countries, according to the WHO official website.  

“Breastfeeding is the foundation of life,” UNICEF Jordan Health and Nutrition Specialist Buthayna Al Khatib said during the launch, stressing that “as a middle income country, accreditation of hospitals as Baby Friendly will support the national efforts to reduce neonatal and infant mortality”.

UNICEF and WHO recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life starting within an hour of birth, as “continuing to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months promotes sensory and cognitive development, and protects babies against infectious and chronic diseases,” according to a statement by UNICEF. 

“But mothers cannot be expected to do it alone,” the statement continued, noting that “early and exclusive breastfeeding needs to be supported by hospitals and birthing centres, healthcare workers, governments and families.”

“According to the latest survey in 2012, less than 20 per cent of the babies born in Jordan are breastfed within the first hour of life,” Director of the Neonatal Unit at JUH Eman Badran told The Jordan Times, stressing the need to “improve exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months of age and educate mothers within the last stages of pregnancy on breastfeeding practices”.

 “Complying with the practices and policies stated in the protocol, new mothers will now be sent to the post-delivery area to support them in breastfeeding within the first hour after giving birth, keeping the babies with them at all times and preventing them from providing the newborns with any milk substitute formula,” Badran explained. 

“In the event a baby is sent to the intensive care unit to be monitored or is unable to suck the milk directly, mothers will be assisted in expressing and storing breast milk, which can be kept in the refrigerator up to 48 hours for later use,” the doctor continued. 

 “But a Baby Friendly hospital should also support working mothers — and especially nurses who work in shifts of more than 8 hours” Badran pointed out, announcing that the hospital will open a room for working mothers at the facility to express or pump their milk while at the workplace.

“When women do return to work, they need support from their employers to continue breastfeeding,” UNICEF noted in its official website, adding that “the right to breastfeed in the workplace is critical to women who wish to continue breastfeeding their children, as are sufficient time and appropriate spaces for breastfeeding or expressing and storing breastmilk”.

According to Badran, the initiative is set to be implemented over the next four months, during which the hospital staff will work to accomplish all the criteria required by the Health Care Accreditation Council in order to obtain the Baby Friendly certification. 

The launching of the initiative follows the implementation of the first phase of the UNICEF project “Establishing a Quality Recognition Programme for Baby Friendly hospitals”, which was launched  by the UN agency in March this year under the patronage of Health Minister Mahmoud Sheyyab.

UNICEF Deputy Representative in Jordan Ettie Heggins voiced UNICEF’s appreciation to Sheyyab for signing the protocol, which aims at encouraging the formation of an effective monitoring system to guarantee the success of Baby Friendly hospitals.

“Over-half of all under-five deaths occur during the neonatal period in Jordan”, Heggins said, adding that “preventable causes of neonatal deaths can be averted with proven cost effective interventions to ensure newborns’ best start to life”.

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