Jamaica News: The Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) says it continues to implement strategies to encourage and support breastfeeding in the region.
Speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, at the agency’s Regional Office in Montego Bay, St. James, on September 27, Parish Nutritionist with the WRHA, Doncia Murray, says the Authority has established ‘Mother to Mother’ support groups in John’s Hall, St James, and Whitehouse, Westmoreland, to encourage exclusive breastfeeding beyond a baby’s first few weeks.
Miss Murray added that a third group is to be established in Darliston, Westmoreland, shortly, and informed that the support groups are tasked with promoting breastfeeding as a best practice, as well as reinforce healthy practices for both mother and child.
“This not only starts when the child is born but, actually, we promote good nutrition for our mothers from the antenatal period, so we are ensuring the children are well fed from the antenatal period up to two years and beyond.
Currently, in the Johns Hall area, we are trying to work at it in order to ensure that the community gets the benefits of this programme,” she said.
Miss Murray pointed out that the WRHA is seeking to forge partnerships with the key stakeholders to change attitudes towards exclusive breastfeeding.
“Currently, we are still in the teething stage because it is a new programme. Persons are not really accustomed to an activity of this nature, so it is really a challenge. However, we have to target our key stakeholders, including our churches. Most of them have their women’s group in their organisation, so we are looking at partnering with them,” she noted.
“Also, we are looking at early-childhood institutions in those communities (Johns Hall, Whitehouse). That’s one of the areas that we are trying to target to sensitise persons about the support group and its importance to young child feeding,” she added.
Miss Murray said that Infant and Young Child Feeding Facilitators have been dispatched across the western region and are equipped to help mothers with breastfeeding.
“These persons visit the maternity wards at the hospitals, and in St. James, the Women’s Centre – that’s where they basically do much of their work, in addition to ensuring that educational activities take place in our clinics.
Whatever clinic it is, whether it’s a medical clinic, antenatal or postnatal clinic, we ensure that the education is given just to ensure that breastfeeding is supported,” she noted.
The WRHA will be hosting a breastfeeding symposium and exposition at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on October 3, to further heighten public awareness on the importance of breastfeeding.
The Western Regional Health Authority covers Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland.
Source: JIS News