What is the Baby Friendly Health Initiative in Ireland?
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is a global campaign by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) which recognises that implementing best practice in the maternity service is crucial to the success of programmes to promote breastfeeding.
The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative can be viewed as a quality initiative implementing research based best practices. The successful implementation of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding ensures that the hospital/unit supports and promotes informed parental choice through the provision of appropriate, accurate and unbiased information and discussions. The initiative involves health promoting practices and so is ideally linked with both health promotion activities and quality programmes.
The Initiative was launched in 1991 and there are more than 20,000 hospitals/maternity units in 156 countries worldwide, including over 400 in Europe, that have been externally assessed and recognised as meeting the standards to be designated Baby Friendly.
The title was changed in Ireland in 2013 from Hospital to Health to include the broader health service settings that might become part of the Initiative in the future. When the BFHI in Ireland began it was a part of the Health Promoting Hospitals programme. It is now an independent organisation in receipt of grant-aid from the HSE Health Promotion, Health and Wellbeing Division.
In Ireland, BFHI also has a Breastfeeding Supportive Paediatric Unit Project and a Breastfeeding Supportive Workplace Project, though these are currently inactive. BFHI in Ireland is participating in the development of the international Neontal BFHI project.
See our Programme Resources for more information on tools to assist with activities within the BFHI in Ireland.
How does BFH in Ireland function?
and the National Strategic Action Plan for Breastfeeding
The BFHI Coordinator,
Becker, works part-time and is best contacted by email.
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