Among the interesting findings was the fact that manufacturers of breast milk substitutes have changed tactics in their attempts to market their products in health facilities. For example, rather than openly advertise their products, they are now resorting to more subtle tactics such as handing out calendars with their branding.
The representatives from the Ministry and the SBFEC explained to the hospital representatives why this type of marketing violates the International Code on the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which Sharjah has been actively championing since last year.
Another finding is that some staff and patients may require additional orientation to become fully aware of the recommended guidelines and procedures.
However, there were many positive discoveries made during the tour. This includes the announcement by Loulouyha Center that it is eager to establish an antenatal and lactation clinic. This will be a massive boost in giving mothers specialized counseling while also treating problems such as insufficient milk flow and pains during breastfeeding.
Addressing the hospital representatives, Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Director of the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign said: “We understand that setting a policy is one thing, but actually implementing it on the ground is a completely different matter. That is why we have come to get first hand insights on what the institutions are doing right and where they can improve. However I want to emphasize that this is not just a one-way process where the health institutions learn from us; we can also learn from them by hearing what challenges they face on a daily basis, and this will guide us in strengthening our campaign.”
In an encouraging sign that the campaign’s message is being followed, MCH Center has dedicated a special area in which to set up a lactation clinic that will feature a waiting room, sterilization area and cubicles to give women privacy and comfort.
Other hospitals toured during this mission included Khorfakkan Hospital and Kalba Hospital. To give the health professionals a long term resource of information, DVDs were distributed – featuring the officially recommended guidelines, policies, educational lectures, data and much more.
During the tour, SBFEC and the Ministry of Health representatives engaged in a productive discussion with the management boards of the hospitals and clinics regarding the best ways to implement baby-friendly standards.
Dr Al Ghazal concluded: “This tour has not just been about finding facts, but finding encouragement and motivation. Therefore we are greatly encouraged by the generous support from the Ministry of Health, and from the hospitals and clinics. Their support will make or break our campaign, because these institutions are the ones who deal with women on a daily basis – before, during and after the breastfeeding phase. More facilities are appreciating that they not only gain certification as Baby Friendly Health Institutions (BFHI) from our campaign, but Sharjah as a whole gains from becoming a local, regional and global capital in baby-friendliness.”
Tuesday, February 26- 2013 @ 13:49 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.