Doha, 25 July 2022: The Ministry of Public Health advocates the adoption of the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) in Qatar and Hamad Medical Corporation is proactively working towards obtaining official BFHI accreditation for facilities that offer women and newborn services in Qatar. Al Khor Hospital has commenced a special program to provide antenatal infant feeding classes to pregnant women. In addition, Al Khor Hospital now has a hotline that women can call for breastfeeding support.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 820 000 lives of children under 5 years of age could be saved every year if all children 0–23 months were optimally breastfed. The WHO and UNICEF launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) to assist hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies by giving special recognition to hospitals that have done so.
Mr. Mohammed Al Jusaiman, HMC’s Deputy Chief for General Hospitals Group and Chief Executive Officer of Al Khor Hospital is a keen hospital executive supporter of the initiative across all HMC facilities offering maternity services. “By joining hands across the public healthcare sector to promote breastfeeding, we are aiming to make it easier for women and their families to adopt breastfeeding best practices as a means of protecting infants and ensuring their wellbeing. This initiative is designed to be in the best interest of mothers and their babies while also helping governments gain efficiencies and save money and lives.”
Studies have shown that breastfeeding helps to promote infant brain development, reduces the risk of obesity in children, and protects women against breast and ovarian cancer and diabetes. Facilities that provide maternity and newborn services have a unique role in providing new mothers and babies with the timely and appropriate support and encouragement they need to breastfeed successfully.
Al Khor Hospital has been strongly engaged in developing comprehensive, high-quality maternity services. We, therefore, have key nursing and midwifery teams working towards our hospital’s readiness for the BFHI accreditation, says Ms. Fatma Moh’d Al-Komah, Acting Executive Director of Nursing, who has been very instrumental in the establishment of these sessions for pregnant women and new mothers living in and around the Al Khor catchment area.
According to Mariama Lilei Feika, Director of Nursing for women and newborn services in Al Khor Hospital, the antenatal infant feeding methods thought are based on the recommendations from the BFHI’s Global Standards for infant feeding education. “We aim to enable expectant mothers in their third trimester to discuss how best they can adopt feeding methods that are right for them and their baby. Topics discussed in group sessions with pregnant women include the importance of breastfeeding (benefits to baby and mother), global recommendations on exclusive breastfeeding, risks of giving formula or other breast-milk substitutes, and the fact that breastfeeding continues to be important after 6 months when other foods are given, the importance of immediate and sustained skin-to-skin contact, early initiation of breastfeeding and importance of rooming-in, basics of good positioning and attachment and recognition of feeding cues.”
Al Khor Hospital Antenatal Infant Feeding Classes hotline number (33032156) offers breastfeeding advice from 7 am to 3 pm, Sunday to Thursday. The establishment of educational sessions and services provided through the helpline supports achieving the target for the antenatal indicators for the BFHI accreditation.