The Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Campaign has announced that 42 government and private bodies in Sharjah have been officially accredited as baby and mother friendly places. The campaign also succeeded in training around 95% of the staff and workers in the field of maternity and child healthcare in public and private health facilities on how to provide a healthy and safe environment for children and their mothers.
The announcement came during a special ceremony organised by the Campaign at Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre in the presence of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and President of the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Campaign, Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Health, Mariam Mohammed Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, and a number of directors of government departments, as well as representatives of international organisations and media representatives.
In a keynote address delivered during the ceremony, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi said the Campaign has contributed to promoting the physical and mental health of children and mothers through providing the proper environment for raising breastfeeding rates and duration, to give children a good start in life and empower them with the right beginning in the Emirate of Sharjah.
She said, “The campaign seeks to provide an environment that contributes to improving children’s health and create conditions that allow mothers to take care of their children at work and in public places. The work team, empowered with strong will and determination, has been keen to conduct numerous workshops, meetings, and field visits to several bodies and facilities in the Emirate of Sharjah, to familiarise them with the campaign and encourage them to join it, as well as to help them provide all the requirements for creating an appropriate environment for both the mother and her child.”
Sheikha Budour Al Qasimi added, “Over the past two years, the campaign had been able to reap excellent results after a range of leading public and private institutions received official accreditation, a fact that motivated others to follow suit.”
She went on to say that the campaign would continue until the Emirate of Sharjah and its various institutions and facilities become baby-friendly environments, and Sheikha Bodour thanked all bodies and institutions for supporting the campaign and their real and effective investment for the future of generations to come.
Dr Hessa Khalfan Al Ghazal, Director of the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Baby Friendly Emirate Campaign, said, “The campaign is a community initiative that reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, to strengthen Sharjah’s cultural role – not only as the capital of Arab and Islamic cultural, but also as the capital of children’s rights and women’s empowerment. Since breastfeeding is one of the most important enablers of this culture, it is no wonder that it captures the interest and follow-up of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of Shurooq and President of the Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate Campaign.”
She referred to the outstanding efforts exerted by the campaign’s staff and partners in achieving the results and accomplishments made by the campaign over the past two years, especially entities and institutions registered with the campaign, and sponsors, including ministries and bodies, as well as Sharjah Islamic Bank, which is the main sponsor of the campaign.
Highlighting the most important results achieved by the campaign in the past two years, Dr Hessa Al Ghazal said that the campaign conducted more than 550 visits and meetings with government and private entities in the Emirate to identify its objectives and benefits, as well as 40 training courses and educational workshops, in addition to providing basic training approved by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to 915 providers of maternity and child healthcare in government and private health facilities in the Emirate of Sharjah, equivalent to 95% of the total workers, along with raising awareness and skills of 963 personnel in organisations and nurseries.
She noted that the Campaign has managed to implement the international code for Marketing Breast Milk formula in all government health facilities in Sharjah and also launched the Arabic-dubbed version of the British educational film entitled, ‘From Pregnancy to Breastfeeding’, produced by the British Child Health Association ‘Best Beginnings’. The campaign also launched its website and its official pages on the social networking platforms Facebook and Twitter. The campaign’s efforts culminated with the accreditation of 42 institutions by the campaign as baby friendly in its four initiatives, including Baby-Friendly Health Facilities, Mother-Friendly Workplaces, Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries, and Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places.
Randa Saadeh, the internationally respected Consultant, Educator, and Lecturer on Infant and Child-Feeding, who previously held the post of Coordinator of Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative at the World Health Organization, gave a speech on the methods of evaluating the performance of those wishing to obtain the campaign’s accreditation as baby friendly. She pointed out that the criteria followed in the evaluation are compatible with the Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative, which was launched by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in 1991, and was then adopted by the UAE’s Ministry of Health (Central Department for Maternity and Childhood) in 1993.
Saadeh said, “Supporting and empowering mothers to breast-feed their babies is vitally important to children’s health, and hence it is important to provide mothers with full and accurate information about the benefits of breastfeeding, so as to encourage them to do so.”
She added that the Emirate of Sharjah realised the importance of breastfeeding in improving children’s health, and therefor launched the campaign after it developed and implemented policies necessary to achieve its goals objectives, pointing out that only a few countries across the world pay attention to implementation of the global recommendations for infant feeding.
Saadeh emphasized that the “Sharjah Baby-Friendly Emirate” Campaign is an ideal example to be emulated by other countries in the region to achieve an increase in breastfeeding rates to ensure the growth of smart and healthy generations.
Mohammed Abdullah, CEO of Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB), said, “We have been keen to be among the first supporters of the campaign through our official sponsorship, in order to empower it with all elements of success, and to work together in laying down the foundation for “A True Beginning for a Better Future” for coming generations, as we expect them to maintain our country’s march of excellence and leading role in all fields, and play their role in serving their people, country and nation.”
He added, “We consider our participation in the campaign as part of our social responsibility which we are eager to strengthen and develop continuously in order to be closer to the needs of our community, and contribute to improving their quality of life.”
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi and the Minister of Health along with the UNICEF representative presented the international accreditation certificate from the World Health Organization and UNICEF to the Maternity and Childhood Centre in Sharjah as the first baby- friendly health centre in the country, as well as to Khorfakan Hospital as the second baby-friendly hospital in the Emirate and the 11th in the UAE.
Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi honoured govermentalentities that have been officially recognised and accredited by the campaign as mother-friendly workplaces.
The honoured bodies included the Sharjah Museum Department, the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, the Sharjah Maternity and Childhood Centre, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Executive Office of Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, the Department of Human Resources, the Environment and Protected Areas Authority, Sharjah Ladies Club, Public Health Clinic, Sharjah Municipality, Sharjah Education Council, Sharjah Educational District, Sharjah Public Transport Corporation, General Command of Sharjah Police, Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, Sharjah Federal and First of Instance Courts, Social Service Department – Dar Al Amn, the Real Estate Registry Department, Sharjah Airport Free Zone Authority, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, Sharjah Department of Public Works, and the General Department of Punitive and Correctional Establishments.
Also honoured are Sharjah Model Nursery, Basateen Pre-school centre, Al Talae’ Nursery, Al Mostaqbal Nursery, Al Shaima’a Nursery, Wast Nursery, Al Hera Nursery, Al Ghubaiba Nursery, Ruqaya Nursery and My Small Room Nursery, which were honored under the category of Breastfeeding-Friendly Nurseries.
Expo Centre Sharjah, Sharjah ladies Club, Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, Sharjah City Centre, Al Majaz Waterfront, Sharjah Art Museum, Al Qasba, Sharjah Classic cars Museum, were honoured as Mother and Baby-Friendly Public Places.
At the end of the ceremony, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi honoured a number of organiszations and bodies that are supporting the campaign
Yousuf Al Taweel
Branch Manager – Sharjah
T: +971 55 50 66 111
Senior Account Manager
T: +971 050 4957461