CHIMANIMANI – Despite the general decline in health services in the country over the past decade, two Manicaland hospitals have defied the odds by offering international infantile health services.
The two hospitals, Mutambara District and Biriri Rural Hospital, are part of the three such health facilities nationally which were given the recognition of their excellent service delivery systems in a 2014 survey.
Speaking at the accreditation of Baby Friendly Hospital initiative the International Baby Friendly Status to the institutions Provincial Medical Director Dr Patron Mafaune said at the (BHFI) accreditation celebrations recently.
PMD, Dr Patron Mafaune said 27 hospitals and clinics in Zimbabwe were assessed in December 2014 and three hospitals met the minimum standards according to the Global Criteria and have been accredited the BFHI status.
“Towards end of year 2014 the national authorities conducted assessments to 27 health facilities in the country.
In Manicaland, the assessments were carried out at Mutambara Mission Hospital, Rusitu Mission Hospital, Biriiri Rural Hospital, Birchenough Bridge Hospital and Murambinda Hospital. Mutambara and Biriiri met the minimum standards according to the Global Criteria and have been accredited the BFHI status,”said PMD Mafaune.
She added that mothers should be well informed about what benefits their babies derive from breastfeeding.
“Exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving the lives of about 20% of children under ﬁve.
This places an obligation on the Government and society as a whole to create favourable conditions, and to remove obstacles to breastfeeding, including all forms of promotion of breast milk substitutes, bottles and teats, as provided for in the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes (The International Code) and subsequent relevant World Health Assembly (WHA) Resolutions,” she said.
Dr Mafaune said breast feeding provides an ideal source of nutrients, and is economical and safe.
“Breastfeeding for the first two years of life protects children from ear infections, eczema, asthma, obesity, childhood cancer, diarrhoea and vomiting, diabetes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
We recommend early initiation of breastfeeding within the 1st hour of birth and exclusive breastfeeding up to the age of six months with the introduction of complementary feeds after six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years or beyond,” she said.
PMD Mafaune expressed concern over the low percentage of babies in Manicaland that are being breastfed for the recommended two years.
“According to the MICS and Demographic Health Surveys (DHS) of 2014 about only half of the infants in Manicaland are being initiated on breast milk within one hour of birth and only 35% are being exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
About 91% are being breastfed up to the age of one year and only 15 % are being breastfed up to the age of two years,” said PMD Mafaune.
She added that the critical ‘window of opportunity’ that exists between birth and the child’s second year of life paves way for a strong, healthy and productive future.
“Optimal nutrition, exclusive breastfeeding and minimum acceptable diet from 0-23 months have a lasting impact on a child’s growth, development and future productivity.
Absence of proper nutrition during this critical period exposes the child to frequent and severe childhood illnesses, stunted growth, development delays and death,” she said.
PMD Mafaune however urged the two clinics to maintain their status of being ‘baby friendly’ so that in the next five years it won’t be taken from them when other assessments will be done.
“If you don’t underperform you will be stripped down of this precious award .In the next five years other assessments will be held and you should be the best by then,” she said.
Speaking at the same occasion Provincial Nutritionist Mr. Zephaniah Gomora said the goals of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative are to transform hospitals and maternity facilities through implementation of the ten steps to successful Breastfeeding.
Since the BFHI began more than 12,000 facilities in 134 countries have been designated Baby Friendly, more mothers are breastfeeding their infants and child health has improved,” said Gomora.
The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by World Health Organization(WHO) and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990 that aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health care environment that supports breastfeeding as the norm.
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