The Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, recently unveiled a plaque in recognition of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital’s Mother and Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) accreditation, after a National Department of Health assessment in 2016 found that the hospital fulfils the relevant accreditation criteria.
The MBFI is a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital is one of only three private hospitals in the province to achieve this status.
Photo: Western Cape Minister of Health Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo visited Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital recently to unveil a plaque in recognition of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital’s Mother and Baby Friendly Initiative (MBFI) accreditation. Pictured (from left to right): Sylvia Ninham, Nursing Service Manager; Sr Anna Bothma of the hospital’s MBFI project team, Western Cape Minister of Health Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Nicolette Henney, Assistant Director of Nutrition at the Western Cape Health Department.
“As a midwife myself, I am very fond of children and I am in full support of the Mother and Baby Friendly Initiative, as it speaks to the importance of the first 1 000 days of a child’s life,” Dr Mbombo said on the occasion.
She notes that a child’s health is most vulnerable during the first 1 000 days of life and expressed satisfaction that the private sector is moving towards embracing the MBFI, which assesses a healthcare facility’s implementation of infant feeding policy, emphasising the importance of breastfeeding and mother-child bonding, according to set criteria outlined in a global assessment tool.
The general manager of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital, Dirk Truter, said the hospital was most gratified to join the league of Mother and Baby Friendly health facilities.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr Mbombo to our hospital as part of the global initiative to support breastfeeding mothers and develop further awareness around the numerous health benefits of breastfeeding babies for their first 1 000 days of life,” Truter says.
Dr Mbombo and the Assistant Director: Integrated Nutrition Programme for the Western Cape, Nicolette Henney, handed out certificates to staff members for completion of their training in assisting mothers in making informed choices about breastfeeding options and practices.
“The right nutrition during this 1 000-day window can have a profound impact on a child’s ability to develop and learn. It is for that reason that the Department promotes action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and children during this period,” Dr Mbombo said.
“Under the theme ‘Survive, thrive and transform’, we are not only focusing on the well-being of the child but we are also focusing on mothers.”
Sr Jacqui Elschot, manager of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital’s maternity unit, points out that the World Health Organization (WHO) advocates that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months after birth, as this is recognised as the best nutritional start for a young life.
“Many studies have indicated that feeding babies on breastmilk only, for at least the first six months of life, protects them against a host of non-communicable diseases,” Sr Elschot explains.
“There is evidence to suggest that conditions such as asthma, diabetes and obesity may be prevented through adequate breastfeeding, while the psychological benefits for both mothers and their babies cannot be overemphasised,” she adds.
“In a water scarce country, particularly in light of the drought in our province, breastfeeding also has advantages for water conservation. The manufacturing process for infant formula, particularly dairy-based formula, is often water intensive and every drop of water is precious.”
Truter thanked the hospital’s dedicated and caring multidisciplinary team for their on-going support in ensuring that Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital fulfils the criteria of the MBFI.
“Working together with the Department of Health, we are looking to further improve on the gains we have already made, as this initiative meaningfully contributes to life-long health and wellbeing for the babies born in our hospital,” Truter concludes.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville or Pieter Rossouw
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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