8 August 2019, Sharjah, UAE: Zulekha Hospital, Sharjah takes pride in being the first private hospital in UAE to be certified with the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation by UNICEF and WHO. The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
Being based out of the Baby-friendly city Sharjah and in line with the vision of Founder & Chairperson Dr. Zulekha Daud, the hospital extensively advocates breastfeeding and imparts breastfeeding education and awareness to expecting mothers and the community at large. Doctors and nurses are encouraged to undergo the Lactation Consultant Training Program and today the hospital has seven Lactation Consultants on board who provide free education and guidance to mothers round the clock.
In collaboration with Sharjah Baby Friendly City and Breastfeeding Friends Society, Zulekha Hospital takes numerous other initiatives to promote Breastfeeding in UAE. To ensure continued education on this significant aspect to masses, the hospital hosts various activities within the hospital for staff, partners and their families. Twenty hours of the staff education on breastfeeding has been given to workers who are in direct contact with mothers and babies.
These include doctors, nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists, and pharmacists. Apart from the clinical staff, all non-clinical staff including front office and back office, housekeeping, health care assistants, cashiers, maintenance, kitchen, and security staff are given regular awareness sessions on breastfeeding, to promote the cause.
Complimentary antenatal classes in Gynecology clinics are extended to mothers by dedicated Breastfeeding Educators who educate all expectant patients on the importance of breastfeeding as per WHO guidelines. The mother understands the importance of breastfeeding; and enthusiastically breastfeeds the baby during their post-natal phase. Apart from the antenatal education, these mothers continue to get education from trained competent nurses in labor rooms and in the post-natal wards as well.
Co-Chairperson Zanubia Shams says, “We understand how important this bonding is at an early stage and therefore encourage mothers to consult our Lactation Consultants free of cost even after their post-natal stay at the hospital. This supportive educational journey can continue till the time a mother is lactating. We ensure education material related to BFHI is handed over to mothers during the sessions for reference and right practices.”
Dr. Kranti Jadav, Specialist Gynecologist states, “Breast feeding is the natural way of providing infants with the nutrients they need for health group and development. Exclusive breastfeeding should start within one hour after birth until a baby is six months old, followed by nutritious complimentary foods to be added while continuing breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.
Mothers require active support for establishing and sustaining breastfeeding practices although it is a natural act and that is why as a BFHI accredited hospital we can provide the required support and promote breastfeeding.”
Breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first month of life & continues to provide half or more of a child nutritional needs during the second half of the first year and up to one-third during the second year of life.
Breast milk is the perfect mix of vitamins, fat and proteins which is easily digestible unlike formula. Breastfeeding by itself has many advantages for the mother and child, lowering risks of diseases, strengthening immune systems, burning extra calories for mothers and improving their overall well-being.