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BFI accreditation with Rosemary Marx and students
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City awarded accreditation by Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative

Public Health Programme for Health Visitors first in the capital to receive Baby Friendly accreditation from Unicef UK

by Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer)

City, University of London has had its Public Health Programme for Health Visitors accredited as ‘Baby Friendly’, following assessment by Unicef UK. It is the first programme of its kind in London to receive the award, and the eighth in the UK.

The Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI) is a worldwide programme of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef. In the UK, the initiative works with public services to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and to strengthen mother-baby and family relationships.

Accreditation means that the University’s Health Visiting students will be equipped to support women in their decision to breastfeed from the moment they enter roles in the community.

The University’s Midwifery Programme is also working towards the Baby Friendly accreditation.

Accreditation of a Baby Friendly University course takes place in two stages: at Stage 1 the breastfeeding and relationship-building educational programme content is assessed, and at Stage 2 assessment of student knowledge and skills is undertaken via face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of students who have attended the full education programme.

Val Thurtle, Programme Director, said:

“We are exceptionally pleased at the performance of our September 2017 cohort of Health Visiting students who all achieved the Unicef Audit with a 100 per cent pass rate in all questions. They demonstrated motivation and enthusiasm, and they were well supported by their practice teachers in the community placements of Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London Borough of Newham and Tower Hamlets GP Care Group.”

Rosemary Marx, BFI Lead for the Public Health Programme, said:

“We know that many mothers 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 equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively support breastfeeding within their practice, more mothers 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 in childhood. We also know that breastfeeding reduces the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and protects mothers against cardiovascular disease, so increasing the UK’s breastfeeding continuation rate would achieve a major improvement in the nation’s health.

“But however a mother chooses to feed her baby, she can be sure that she will have the help and support from health visitors to understand how her baby communicates with her and needs her to respond, in order that she and her baby can form a strong loving relationship.”

Baby Friendly Initiative Programme Director Sue Ashmore said:

"We are delighted that the Public Health Programme at City, University of London has received this award. Surveys show us that most mothers want to breastfeed but don’t always get the support they need. Becoming Baby Friendly accredited means that City, University of London is addressing this problem and aiming to ensure more mothers can successfully breastfeed their babies in the future.”

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