|The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs suggested mandating lactation rooms in offices to promote breastfeeding. — Photo nld.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs suggested mandating lactation rooms in offices to promote breastfeeding.
Ha Dinh Bon, head of the ministry's Legal Affairs Department, said this was a key aspect of the draft decree guiding the implementation of the 2012 Labour Code's regulations on female workers.
The department surveyed relevant parties before adding the regulation on lactation rooms into the draft decree, he said. The decree was expected to pass in September if approved.
The Viet Nam Confederation of Labour applauded the proposal, said the confederation's vice president, Nguyen Thi Thu Hong, at a conference on breastfeeding promotion early this week.
She said the confederation, the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Alive & Thrive have run a workplace lactation support programme since 2012.
The programme helped set up more than 70 lactation rooms in Government workplaces, as well as garment and electronics companies. More than 180,500 female workers have been benefited from the programme.
Under the programme, enterprises set up hygienic, private spaces with safe water sources for mothers to produce breast milk. Mothers were given two to three short breaks during the day for the process.
Phan Thanh Hai, head of Maiko Viet Nam Company in Ha Noi Export Processing's trade union, said that the company has more than 1,000 female workers, including about 100 breastfeeding mothers.
A common worry among mothers was going back to work after maternity leave and having little time to breastfeed their infants, said Nguyen Hong Hanh, 30, of Ha Noi's Tay Ho District.
While 78 per cent of female employees believe that "breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants," only 36 percent breastfeed their infants until 19 to 24 months of child age, according to a survey conducted in 2011 by Viet Nam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL) on maternity leave policies and breastfeeding practices among female workers in industrial zones. Many mothers said the main reason they weaned kids off early was to go back to work.
The World Health Organisation and the UN Children's Fund recommend all mothers breastfeed their children exclusively for the first six months of life and continue to breastfeed to 24 months or longer.
Viet Nam's National Assembly in June 2012 approved a Labour Code revision to extend maternity leaves from four to six months. — VNS