Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 7th, 2023 [Ministry of Health]: At a brief ceremony on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, held at the Maternity Ward of the Joseph N France General Hospital, a plaque recognizing the institution’s achievement of completing the Baby Friendly Initiative certification process was unveiled.
The ceremony, attended by Dr. Amilia Del Riego, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, along with her staff, was the culmination of a process that qualifies the JNF General Hospital as only the third hospital in the region to achieve the status of Baby Friendly Certified.
The Baby Friendly hospital initiative was launched by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1991 as an accreditation process that requires a hospital to attain specific standards in relation to the ten steps of successful breastfeeding.
“Research has shown neonatal mortality is reduced by twenty-two percent when children are breastfed within an hour of birth,” said Dr. Sharon Archibald, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, during her remarks at the ceremony. “In St. Kitts and Nevis, the Joseph N. France General Hospital has met all the requirements to become baby friendly since October of 2022.”
Other Ministry of Health officials who attended the ceremony included Dr. Hazel Laws, Chief Medical Officer; Dr. Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions; Mrs. Lindsey Maynard, Director of Operations at JNF General Hospital; Dr. Marissa Carty, Noncommunicable Disease Coordinator and Mrs. Latoya Matthew Duncan, Nutrition and Surveillance Coordinator.
In her remarks, Mrs. Latoya Matthew Duncan, Nutrition and Surveillance Coordinator in the Ministry of Health, gave a brief background to the project and expressed her gratitude to the staff of the JNF General Hospital and Ministry for their hard work and commitment to achieving Baby-Friendly certification.
“…In 2022 we did many remarkable things together”, said Mrs. Matthew Duncan. “Together we rose to the invitation to make a big impact. We showed up when it was time to dig into the details of complicated issues because we knew what it could mean for babies and families. We continued pushing and it was possible because of your support and commitment.”
Dr. Amilia Del Riego, PAHO Representative, underscored that having a policy that clearly identifies the government’s position with supporting breastfeeding and enabling the environment so that mothers can breastfeed for the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding is a great achievement.
“The first one in your ten steps, that’s not easy to achieve,” said Dr. Reigo. “Compliance with the international code of marketing with breastmilk substitute; there is a lot of things in the industry, and the commercial push that we have to not only have baby formula in hospitals to give to mothers, but the whole marketing strategy around the baby formula makes life very hard for health professional and for mothers to actually be able to implement. That is a feature of your policy that I understand that you have already implemented.”
Dr. Reigo commended the hospital’s Maternity Ward’s staff and management for their dedication to improving maternal and child health outcomes in St. Kitts and Nevis, and the delegation expressed their support for continued efforts to promote and protect the health and well-being of mothers and babies in the country.