Unveiling the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Plaque at the Sangre Grande Hospital Trinidad and Tobago

Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

Port of Spain, 2 February 2024: At a Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation ceremony, PAHO/WHO was delighted to celebrate the achievement of yet another hospital in Trinidad and Tobago meeting the required standards for certification as Baby Friendly following an independent external assessment.

In 2015, WHO and UNICEF initiated a process to review and revitalize the BFHI program, culminating in the publication of updated implementation guidelines in 2018. These new guidelines underscore strategies for universal health scale-up and long-term sustainability. They stress the integration of the program into healthcare systems and mandate the implementation of the Ten Steps in all facilities within a country.

In 2012, during the World Health Assembly, global leaders endorsed a nutrition target aimed at increasing exclusive breastfeeding rates to at least 50% by 2025—a target that remains in force today.

HSS Advisor, Dr. Paul Edwards and Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh
Dr. Paul Edwards, PAHO/WHO Advisor for Health Systems and Services and The Honorable Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh at the unveiling

During the event, on behalf of Dr. Gabriel Vivas Francesconi, PAHO/WHO Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dutch Entities, Dr. Paul Edwards, PAHO/WHO Advisor for Health Systems and Services commended the Sangre Grande Hospital's management and staff for their diligent adherence to the updated Ten Steps guidelines. He noted that their internal assessments paved the way for an external assessment by PAHO/WHO, resulting in an unequivocal recommendation for baby-friendly status. The institution's exemplary performance, achieving 100% compliance in many of the evaluated Ten Steps, was lauded.

Dr. Edwards underscored PAHO/WHO's commitment to supporting Trinidad and Tobago in monitoring the International Code and formulating policies to promote optimal child feeding practices. This support aligns with the PAHO Plan of Action for the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Adolescents, with Trinidad and Tobago being one of nine selected frontrunner countries in the Region to receive support under the WHO's Acceleration Plan to combat obesity. Addressing breastfeeding is recognized as a pivotal early intervention in the fight against obesity, a precursor to several noncommunicable diseases, and a crucial step towards achieving the health and wellbeing objectives outlined in SDG 3.

Dr. Paul Edwards delivering remarks at the BFHI
Dr. Edwards delivering remarks delivering behalf of the PWR

The ceremony featured notable speakers, including Dr. Adesh Sirjusingh, Director of Women’s Health, Ministry of Health; Mrs. Debra Thomas, Manager, National Breastfeeding Coordinating Unit; Mrs. Chennel Davis-Gentle, Director, Non-Communicable Diseases; Dr. Paul Edwards, PAHO/WHO Advisor for Health Systems and Services; and Mr. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health.