Two hospitals named as Centres of Excellence for Breastfeeding

Update: August, 26/2019 - 16:19

A health worker instructs a mother to practice breastfeeding at the Trần Văn Thời Hospital in southern Cà Mau Province. — Photo courtesy of  Alive & Thrive

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health in collaboration with Alive & Thrive on Monday announced two hospitals as Centres of Excellence for Breastfeeding, including Trần Văn Thời Hospital in southern Cà Mau Province and Cần Thơ Gynaecology and Obstetrics Hospital in Mekong Delta Cần Thơ City.

“The Centre of Excellence for Breastfeeding is awarded to hospitals for creating and maintaining breastfeeding-friendly environments, which is critical to the health of both mothers and their newborns,” said Prof. Nguyễn Viết Tiến, Deputy Minister of Health.

“This is the first-time feedback from mothers who have recently delivered at a hospital has been incorporated into the hospital designation. It reflects the direction of the Ministry of Health to improve healthcare services towards patients’ satisfaction,” said Nguyễn Đức Vinh, Director of the ministry's Maternal and Child Health Department.

The Centre of Excellence model is important because early initiation of breastfeeding – within the first hour of birth – is highly beneficial to both a mother and a newborn baby. In Việt Nam, 94 per cent of births take place in hospitals, but only 27 per cent of newborns are breastfed within the first hour after birth. This is mainly because skin-to-skin contact is interrupted for weighing, providing vaccines and other interventions that can wait, which prevents newborns from beginning to breastfeed.

“The model focuses on doing the right interventions at the right time after birth to limit unnecessary separation of the mother and newborn. This will facilitate the first embrace and breastfeeding that helps babies to thrive outside the womb by fostering a natural bond between the mother and newborn. It helps transfer warmth, protective bacteria and essential nutrients, antibodies and immune cells to protect from infections,” said Roger Mathisen, Regional Director, Alive & Thrive Southeast Asia.

Expanding the Centre of Excellence designation beyond obstetrics and paediatric hospitals aims to catalyse competition among hospitals, decreasing overload among central and provincial hospitals while increasing equal access to good healthcare for all mothers. The expansion to district-level hospitals is also to discourage the use of formula milk.

According to phone surveys conducted by the health ministry on 3,450 mothers and their families, 84 per cent of mothers report that they receive skin-to-skin contact but only 39 per cent of them had pro-longed contact of up to 90 minutes. As a result, only 62 per cent of mothers could breastfeed exclusively during their hospital stay.

Twenty-eight hospitals have so far applied for the Centre of Excellence designation nationwide, including four private hospitals; more than half of them are district hospitals. Eight other hospitals have been designated and will also be awarded later this year. — VNS