Sharjah Baby Friendly Campaign (SBFC) recently concluded its participation in the 2014 Congress of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMsU), which took place from the 3rd to the 5th of March. SBFC’s participation aimed to promote breastfeeding in the community and explain the behavioural theory in which the conceptual model the Baby-Friendly City as currently practiced in the Emirate of Sharjah.
SBFC was represented by Manal Abou Fakher RN-BSN-IBCLC, and Coordinator of educational material at SBFC, who presented a poster during the congress aimed at highlighting the significant role breastfeeding plays in infant health and exploring ways to raise awareness about the vital importance of promoting and protecting breastfeeding in a society using a framework for planning effective public health interventions to support breastfeeding.
Speaking about her participation, Manal remarked, “The importance of good breastfeeding practices in ensuring a baby’s health cannot be overstated. Yet despite the many sources of accurate and highly helpful information available, a great many misconceptions surrounding maintaining breastfeeding still exist. As a registered Nurse and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, I come across many mothers who are not implementing the best nutrition practices for their infants, either because they are not aware or because the environments they live and work in are not conducive to allowing them to breastfeed. That is why I am both pleased and proud to have had this opportunity to create awareness about this issue during this congress, remarking that the congress theme, ‘Leading Transformation to Sustainable Excellence’ tied in closely with the ethos of SBFC in sustaining breastfeeding.
Nutrition and nurturing during the first years of life are both essential for life-long health and well-being, yet globally less than 40% of infants under six months of age are exclusively breastfed, and these figures dip even lower in much of the Middle East. A 2005 UNICEF report indicated exclusive breastfeeding rates lower than 35% in many high-income Middle Eastern countries, with figures varying from 34% in Bahrain, 31% in Oman and Saudi Arabia, to 12% in Qatar and Kuwait. A study done in Sharjah in 2006 echoed this trend showing that the exclusive breastfeeding rate at day 1 was 76.5%, decreasing to 48.4% at 1 month of age, and further reducing to 13.3% at 6 months of age.
Commenting on these statistics, Dr Hissa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Executive director of SBFC said; “In infancy, no gift is more precious than breastfeeding; yet barely one in three infants is exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life. Our goal is to change this, which is why opportunities to take part in events such as the HBMsU congress are so exciting. In order to make a real difference we need to engage society on every level, both by supporting efforts to promote breastfeeding, and by communicating all relative information to the public at large. As a community it is our duty to ensure that we live in a society that enables mothers to give the best possible care to their children, no matter where they might mind themselves – at a hospital, at home, at their place of work, or in public.”
The Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign was launched in March 2012 under the directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, under the theme ‘A True Beginning for a Better Future’. Chaired by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), the Campaign focuses on supporting breastfeeding mothers and encouraging them to increase the proportion and duration of breastfeeding, so as to achieve its goal of promoting the physical and mental health of children and their parents.
Currently Sharjah Baby Friendly Campaign are targeting policy makers capable of effecting real change to facilitate the creation of an environment that enables mothers to breastfeed and provide the highest standard of care for their infants. SBFC’s four pronged approach focuses on spurring health facilities to achieve baby friendly status, the creation of adequate places to breastfeed in the workplace, the establishment of nurseries that provide a supportive environment for breastfeeding, and the creation of suitable facilities to encourage mothers to nurse in public places. All of these efforts, which include promotion, protection, and support of breastfeeding, are aimed at reaching sustainable growth and healthy development for children in the Emirate of Sharjah.
For further details about the press release please contact;
Yousuf Al Taweel
Branch Manager – Sharjah
Mob: +971 55 50 66 111
Senior Account Manager
Mob: +971 050 4957461