The Alexandria Community Hospital in Alexandria, St Ann, is to be given ‘baby- friendly’ status.
The announcement was made by Dr Deborah Weir, medical officer of health, at an awards ceremony for retirees and employees at Almond Tree Hotel on Tuesday.
Dr Weir was highlighting the achievements of the St Ann Health Department for 2017 when she shared the information with guests.
She said the decision was made to award that status to the hospital following assessments by the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Parish Manager for the St Ann Health Department Nadia Nunes commended the staff at the Alexandria Community Hospital for achieving that status.
Nunes said while other hospitals have received that status before, the Alexandria Community Hospital is the first in most recent times to receive ‘baby-friendly’ certification.
“Commendations to the team; well done, well deserved!” Nunes said.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative was launched in 1991 as a global campaign to prepare health systems and mobilise health care workers to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. According to the Ministry of Health the initiative aims to give every baby the best start in life by creating a health care environment that supports breastfeeding as the norm. It therefore provides a framework that enables mothers to acquire the skills they need to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months (180 completed days), followed by complementary foods and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond. A ‘baby-friendly’ facility also assists mothers who are not breastfeeding to make informed decisions and care for their babies in the best possible way.
Ten institutions were certified between 1996 and 2001. Since then only the Princess Margaret Hospital has been certified ‘baby friendly’.
The Alexandria Community Hospital, which has been classified as a Type Six health centre offers outpatient services usually associated with a health centre; however, over the years, it continues to offer maternity services at the facility.
In the meantime, Dr Weir reported that just over 40 per cent of girls targeted to receive the HPV vaccine in St Ann have already done so. administering of the drug is still taking place.
Dr Weir said parents or guardians of 643 of 1264 girls in the targeted age group have indicated whether or not they will allow their daughters to take the vaccine. The decision made by the others is not yet known. However, Dr Weir urged workers in the St Ann Health Department to play their part in continuing to promote the vaccine in communities across the parish.