2 May 2012

Solomon Islands national hosp, first in Pacific to meet needs of mother and baby

9:26 am on 2 May 2012

The Solomon Islands Ministry of Health and the UN Children's Fund, or UNICEF, have declared the National Referral Hospital in Honiara the first hospital in the Pacific to meet expanded standards for mother and baby friendliness.

The award recognises hospitals that have established practices encouraging maternal and child health.

The core practice promoted is the protection of breast-feeding as the only source of food for the baby in its first six months.

The UNICEF Pacific Representative, Dr Isiye Ndombi, says this is the best way for the baby to bond with its mother and to get all the necessary nutrients for a proper foundation in life.

He says breast-feeding helps to prevent a number of diseases, while the economic savings are critical not only for governments, but also for poor families who spend large parts of their incomes on infant formula.

The acting head of the Health Ministry, Dr Cedric Alependava, says if proper breast-feeding and the mother-and-baby friendly steps are sustained, child mortality in Solomon Islands would come down.