SBF Office Announces Achievement Report During World Breastfeeding Week 151 Institutions In Sharjah Accredited ’Mother’ And ’Baby Friendly’
1055 meetings and field visits conducted over 7-year period
Sharjah Baby Friendly Office, the official body that oversees the continuation and implementation of all initiatives of the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign (SBFC), has revealed that 151 health facilities, workplaces and nurseries in Sharjah have been successfully accredited by the campaign from 2011 to date, which aims to support mothers and their babies to ensure a healthy start in life through breastfeeding.
The campaign encourages breastfeeding-friendly policies across work, social and public venues and has successfully conducted over 1,055 meetings and field visits to reach its goals over the past seven years, successfully overseeing the implementation of 25,000 training hours for 2,000 health professionals on supporting new and expecting mothers and breastfeeding habits.
The campaign’s achievements were highlighted in a recent report launched by the office, during World Breastfeeding Week, detailing the steps taken to achieve the emirate’s goals. The report also highlights the campaign’s main achievements in supporting and elevating the practice of breastfeeding and making it more feasible for mothers who may otherwise resort to formula milk solutions.
The report also elucidates the legal achievements made across Sharjah’s government sector, including extending maternity leave to 90 days and specifying the number of hours during the working day for new mothers to breastfeed their babies. The measures also provide practical and psychological support to mothers who face difficulties while nursing their babies, while raising awareness of the huge benefits of breast milk on the child’s development in the first two years of life.
The campaign has succeeded in increasing breastfeeding rates in Sharjah from 18% in 2012 to over 50% in 2016, meeting and exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) global nutrition target for the year 2025, which identifies an exclusive breastfeeding target in the first 6 months of at least 50%.
The campaign’s efforts culminated in the announcement of Sharjah as the world’s first Baby-Friendly City in December 2015.
SBFC adopted four initiatives that were implemented in Sharjah simultaneously for the first time in the world. The first, ‘Baby-Friendly Health Facilities,’ was modelled on the ‘Baby-Friendly Hospitals Initiative,’ launched by WHO and UNICEF.
The three remaining initiatives, ‘Mother-Friendly Workplaces’, ‘Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries’, and ‘Mother-Baby-Friendly Public Places’, formed unique community-based concepts that aimed to encourage health facilities and members of the community to support breastfeeding and promote a friendly environment for mothers and babies.
Under the ‘Baby-Friendly Health Facilities’ initiative, SBFC carried out 270 visits to hospitals and health centres and held 210 meetings with health facilities, in addition to a number of workshops and field visits. After proving compliance with the terms of accreditation, eight healthcare centres and four hospitals in Sharjah were recognised as ‘Baby-Friendly Health Facilities’ and 2,000 health professionals received a total of 25,000 training hours on breastfeeding, accredited by the UAE Ministry of Health.
Under the ‘Mother-Friendly Workplaces’ initiative, SBFC carried out 315 visits and meetings, and 70 lectures and workshops to support and encourage employers to comply with the terms and criteria set for the initiative. As a result, 84 workplaces were recognised as ‘mother-friendly’ from 2011-2017.
The ‘Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries’ initiative succeeded in accrediting 31 nurseries, organising 25 training courses and lectures, in addition to conducting 85 field visits.
In 2017, the ‘Mother-Baby-Friendly Public Places’ initiative has held more than 15 workshops and lectures, conducted 55 visits, and secured 23 public places to receive accreditation.
Dr Hessa Al Ghazal, Executive Director of Sharjah Baby-Friendly Office, said that the report is a testament to the emirate’s commitment to the health of both the mothers and their children.
“The achievements that have been made in supporting and promoting breastfeeding has not only benefitted mothers and children, it has raised awareness across the entire community that this is the most natural and healthy start for a baby. The benefits are enormous and we can see from the report that not only has the incidence of breastfeeding increased, the perception and mindset of the community has developed with it.”
“The campaign slogan, ‘A Right Beginning for a Better Future’, is a perfect summary of both our goals and our results and is a real inspiration to continue our efforts to raise awareness even further having a lasting effect on the next generations who can enjoy a healthier start and live a healthier future.”