City awarded Certificate of Commitment from Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative
Global programme provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies
The School of Health Sciences at City, University of London has been awarded a Certificate of Commitment in its first step towards gaining international recognition from the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) for a high standard of education in breastfeeding provided to health visiting students.
The Baby Friendly Initiative, set up by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, is a global programme which provides a practical and effective way for health services to improve the care provided for all mothers and babies.
The Baby Friendly University Award was launched in the UK in 2008 – the first such award anywhere in the world – in order to ensure high standards of education in breastfeeding and relationship building are incorporated into midwifery and public health education programmes.
The Certificate of Commitment recognises that a university is dedicated to implementing recognised best practice standards in breastfeeding education, and is part way along the road to full Baby Friendly Accreditation.
Specifically awarded to the BSc/PGDip Public Health (HV) Programme within the School, the Certificate will be presented by programme director Dr Val Thurtle to staff and students at the end of May, and subsequently shared with Specialist Practice Teachers in mid-June.
In the UK, many mothers struggle to get breastfeeding off to a good start due to the pervasiveness of the current ‘bottle-feeding culture’ where facilities and support for mothers are inadequate, and where the power and business interests of the formula milk manufacturing industry takes precedence over public health gains.
However, the research evidence of the health gains of breastfeeding both to infants, mothers and society is overwhelming, with recent research published in The Lancet challenging the misconception that feeding human infants on formula milk is without detrimental consequences.
Speaking about the Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative, Rosemary Marx, BFI Lead for the programme, said:
"We decided to work with the Baby Friendly Initiative to ensure a high standard of education in breastfeeding for all student health visitors graduating from this course. We know that many women give up breastfeeding before they want to because of difficulties which could have been prevented if skilled help had been on hand. By ensuring that our students are fully skilled in how to help a mother breastfeed her child, more women will be able to breastfeed their babies for longer.
Breastfeeding protects babies against a wide range of serious illnesses including gastroenteritis and respiratory infections in infancy as well as allergies and diabetes and obesity in childhood. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and lays the foundation for secure attachment and parenting. Parents need information to make the best choice for long-term health and be practically supported to overcome some of the difficulties that occur in the first few weeks.”
Sue Ashmore, UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative Director, said:
"We are delighted that the BSc/PGDip Public Health (HV) Programme, City, University of Londonhas received this award. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Working towards full Baby Friendly Accreditation means that City, University of London is addressing this problem and aiming to ensure more mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies in future.”