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New National Breastfeeding Advisory Committee

Media Release

13 April 2006

The Ministry of Health announces new National Breastfeeding Advisory Committee

The Ministry of Health has set up a new committee to develop, lead and co-ordinate a national breastfeeding plan aimed at improving New Zealand's breastfeeding rates.

The establishment of the National Breastfeeding Advisory Committee was identified as a goal in the Ministry's Breastfeeding: A Guide to Action.It follows on from the recommendation of the Innocenti Declaration, a global initiative to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Chief Advisor Public Health says the committee will be responsible for leading and co-ordinating the national breastfeeding plan, which will identify barriers to breastfeeding and look at opportunities for encouraging more women to breastfeed their babies. The plan will also help address inequalities by creating supportive environments to increase breastfeeding rates and maintaining breastfeeding duration.

"Breast milk is the ideal food for babies and the Ministry encourages women to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first four to six months of life. Breastfeeding supplies food in a hygienic, cost effective, balanced and convenient way,'' Dr Bloomfield says.

"This committee will set the goals and direction for the future with the ultimate aim of boosting the number of women who breastfeed their babies.''

New Zealand has relatively high breastfeeding rates at birth, which compare favourably with other OECD countries, but they decline signficantly with time. At five to six weeks over 68 per cent of infants are fully breast fed. At three months that figure drops to about 55 per cent while just 24 per cent are breast fed from four to six months, according to Plunket.

Dr Bloomfield said committee members were selected for their complementary expertise and their ability to advance the vision, mission and key tasks of the committee, rather than to represent a specific organisation. Representation from Maori and Pacific peoples, consumer groups and geographical spread was also considered.

Norma Campbell, midwifery advisor to the New Zealand College of Midwives, will chair the committee.

The committee members are: Alison Barrett, Obstetrician, Clinical Director, Maternity Services, Waikato District Health Board Annette Beasley, Lecturer, Victoria University of Wellington Norma Campbell, Midwifery Advisor, New Zealand College of Midwives Kathryn Cannan, Community Member, West Coast District Health Board Hospital Advisory Committee Kaye Crowther, New Zealand President, Royal New Zealand Plunket Society Hilda Fa’asalele, Pacific Health Manager, Auckland City Hospital Pacific Family Support Unit, Womens’ Health, Auckland District Health Board Judith Galtry, Member, Transitional Breastfeeding Committee Riripeti Haretuku, Maori SIDS Programme Director, University of Auckland Lois McTaggart, Clinical Midwifery Leader, Nelson Maternity Unit, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board Barbara Sturmfels, Director, La Leche League New Zealand Two Ministry of Health representatives, one from the Clinical Services Directorate and one from the Public Health Directorate

The membership of two committee members, including a further Maori member, is still being finalised.

ENDS

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