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Presentation of Baby Friendly Hospital Award

22 November 2004

Presentation of Baby Friendly Hospital Award to Wellington Hospital

Venue: Wellington Women's Hospital.

Health Minister Annette King congratulated Wellington Women's Hospital on becoming the 14th maternity facility in New Zealand to have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation.


Welcome to everyone here this evening. It is always a pleasure to get out and about in my Rongotai electorate, and for a Health Minister there's nothing like getting close to the coalface - where the real action happens -- by visiting a hospital!

I want to warmly congratulate Wellington Women's Hospital on becoming the 14th maternity facility in New Zealand to have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation. As the second largest facility to become accredited in New Zealand, this is an important event for the whole country, not just Wellington.

There are approximately 3,500 babies born in Wellington Women's Hospital a year, so the encouragement and support given to breastfeeding by this hospital will impact on six percent of all babies born in New Zealand. More importantly, because this is a tertiary facility, it will affect a significant number of high-risk babies.

I am really impressed that the two other maternity facilities under the auspices of Capital and Coast District Health Board have already achieved accreditation: Paraparaumu and Kenepuru Hospitals. This is a fantastic achievement, and means that you are only the second DHB to have achieved Baby Friendly accreditation in all of your maternity facilities.

Congratulations to all the staff involved in these units - this must be an exciting day for you. I understand you have worked hard as a team under the expert management of Delwyn Hunter and Baby Friendly Hospital Co-ordinator Maggie Morgan.

I believe it is hugely beneficial to have a dedicated co-ordinator such as Maggie when trying to implement the Baby Friendly Hospital concept. Well done Wellington Women's for making this a priority, and well done Maggie for all your hard work in supporting the team to achieve this goal. I know it will be a proud moment for you when you receive the award shortly.

There are too many people to name individually, but I want to thank everyone involved in these worthy initiatives, and everyone involved in working with families and communities to support and promote breastfeeding. Keep up the good work!

Just to give you some background and context, in 2002 I launched Breastfeeding: A Guide To Action with my colleague, the Hon Steve Chadwick. The Action Plan signalled an increase in breastfeeding promotion, advocacy and co-ordination at both the national and local level. This was a really exciting initiative, and I have to tell you I am pleased with the progress achieved so far.

In 2000 the Ministry of Health established and funded the New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority, an incorporated society made up of representatives from 30 organisations who share an interest in breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding: A Guide To Action proposed a national breastfeeding committee to develop a cross-sector national strategy. The terms of reference are in the process of being finalised, and nominations for the committee will go out before the end of December this year. The committee is expected to be in place by early February.

Other work in train includes the implementation of the Healthy Eating - Healthy Action Strategy. I'm sure you have all heard the saying "breast is best." Well, research has shown that there are numerous benefits for breastfed babies, including nutritional advantages. And later in their life, breastfed babies have less risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. The Strategy therefore aims to develop a national health promotion campaign for breastfeeding, with particular emphasis on high-need groups.

The Ministry has also consulted widely to review the New Zealand interpretation of the World Health Organisation Code of Marketing for Breastmilk Substitutes. The Ministry's review of the policy on the recommended duration of exclusive breastfeeding will be completed by June 2005. In addition, the Ministry's review of the New Zealand Food and Nutrition Guidelines for healthy, pregnant and breastfeeding women is still being carried out.

Of course it is essential that a continuum of breastfeeding support is available to mothers when they return home from hospital, and later -- if they need it -- when they return to the workforce. The New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority is leading this area of work and is currently developing draft guidelines for the Baby Friendly Community Initiative.

As many of you will know, on the 2nd of August this year I made a speech during World Breastfeeding Week and presented three Baby Friendly certificates, to Kenepuru, Whakatane and Tauranga Hospitals.

At that function I said there was still much change needed before we could truly celebrate the WHO's "gold standard" of breastfeeding around the world. I also noted that New Zealand's breastfeeding rates compare favourably to those of other OECD countries, although comparing data is difficult due to inconsistencies in definition, age of collection and percentage of the population from whom the data is captured.

The important point is that here in New Zealand, we are now collecting our data nationwide, consistently, in those three areas.

And, while our rates are still lower than the targets set in the Breastfeeding: A Guide To Action, I am pleased to hear that they are definitely improving.

The latest statistics show more women have moved from full and partial breastfeeding to exclusive breastfeeding. Fifty per cent of women are now exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks, which is an increase of four per cent over the past two years. Global organisations such as WHO, the commitment of this Government and health professionals, as well as initiatives such as the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, are clearly making a big difference.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative has been implemented in more than 15,000 hospitals in 136 countries, and has already been proven to make a positive contribution to improving the breastfeeding rates worldwide.
A Baby Friendly Hospital provides an environment conducive to establishing good breastfeeding, where women are given high-quality information and support for breastfeeding in the crucial early stage. And I'm sure all the mothers in this room know how much that is appreciated, when you are feeling sleep-deprived and helpless and sometimes don't know where to turn.

The New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority is working with DHBs to accredit maternity facilities as Baby Friendly. It aims to have all of the approximately 87 maternity facilities accredited by December 2005, and I sincerely hope we reach that goal.

There is quite a process for a hospital to go through before it becomes Baby Friendly accredited. Considerable ground must be covered in terms of research and collaboration, as well as the undertaking of workforce development. There is a great deal of planning with the relevant bodies, and standards of monitoring and reporting to be put in place. The outcome of all this for the hospital is a firm network of collaborative relationships with people who not only have a vision about the importance of breastfeeding, but are able to carry it out in a way that responds to the local circumstances and environment.

So what does coming to a Baby Friendly Hospital like Wellington Women's mean for women? It means they are given high-quality information and support for breastfeeding in those really crucial early stages, when breastfeeding is initiated after birth. What it means for babies is better health for the rest of their lives and, as Health Minister, that is really encouraging to know.

Well done once again to everyone who has made this happen, and my best wishes to all those whose efforts will positively support women to breastfeed. Now that Wellington Women's has embraced the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative, it would be great to see it continue and expand into the wider community.


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