DC health office to hospitals: Breast milk is still best for babies

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 July)–The City Health Office (CHO) has warned private hospitals that they could lose their permits if they continue to directly or indirectly discourage mothers from breastfeeding their babies within their premises.

In a phone interview, city health officer Josephine Villafuerte said the city government could sanction hospitals, including doctors and nurses, if the CHO finds out that mothers are being prevented from breastfeeding their children.

“Mothers who feel that their health care provider is violating the milk code should report the cases immediately to the City Health Office [for proper action],” Villafuerte said.

She said that breastfeeding is part of the city’s Integrated Management for Acute Malnutrition (IMAM) program, which helps monitor the malnutrition cases in the city.

Breastfeeding, she said, is a vital part of the program since it helps curb cases of moderate and severe acute malnutrition.

Villafuerte said the CHO strongly recommends that mothers still breastfeed children, especially the newborn, even if they are already enjoying the supplemental feeding program of the IMAM.

She said babies below five years old are vulnerable to malnutrition and the critical period for breastfeeding is for babies zero to two years old.

The initial stages of malnutrition could begin as early as two months from the time the infant is born.

Earlier this month, Action Against Hunger, which has partnered with the CHO, said their organization was going to fight any proposed amendments to the milk code, which could further encourage the entry of formula milk in the market despite the law encouraging breastfeeding.

Speaking at Wednesday’s weekly Club 888 media forum, Breastfeeding Pinays-Davao (BFP-Davao) member Toni Fuentes said they will be organizing a mass breastfeeding activity this weekend to promote the practice.

In a statement, the organization said it would run an event called Hakab Na 2014 at Stockbridge International School (formerly Tumble Tots) in the city, with the event to be held simultaneously in Manila, Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo.

Another activity will be held on Friday in Cagayan de Oro City.

Hakab Na 2014 will be held in coordination with the Big Latch On – an international activity where mothers will latch on their babies from different locations around the world at the same time. In 2013, there were 14,536 mothers in 845 locations in 28 countries who participated in the event, according to the group.

Fuentes said they expect to surpass last year’s record of at least 225 mothers who simultaneously latched their babies, including 100 mothers in Manila, 90 in Cagayan de Oro and 30 in Davao.

August is breastfeeding awareness month. (MindaNews)