UNICEF gives millions to boost breastfeeding

Published: Wednesday | August 19, 2009

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has donated $2.2 million towards a breastfeeding pilot project in St Catherine and Clarendon.

At the handover ceremony held on August 14 at the Clarendon Health Department, chairman of the Exclusive Breastfeeding Pilot Project Steering Committee, Michelle Coore-Brown, empha-sised that the project seeks to encourage mothers to make the best choice for their children.

Employing new strategies

"Over the years, the national breastfeeding rate at three months has been far below target. As a result, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF, and other regional institutions, has sought to employ new and strategic interventions at the community level to develop best practices for the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding," she said.

"This includes awareness building of stakeholders and the public, strengthening the capacity of health-care workers, improving the quality of breastfeeding counselling, and empowering mothers to make the right choice for themselves and their infants," she further outlined.

Focus areas

To achieve the objective of the pilot project, four health facilities in Clarendon and St Catherine were selected: Chapelton and May Pen, Clarendon; and Bog Walk and Cumberland Road, St Catherine.

"These facilities serve a large population in Clarendon and St Catherine, so it was felt that the activities of the pilot in these health centres will certainly increase the exclusive breast-feeding rates," Coore-Brown said.

To prepare its staff for the programme, the Clarendon Health Department held two three-day breastfeeding workshops in June. Sixty-nine health-care workers participated.

The two-year project is seeking to increase the breastfeeding rates in the parishes by at least five per cent.