Joseph Nathaniel France General hospital St. Kitts and Nevis is certified as Baby-Friendly

BFHI St. Kitts and Nevis presentation of certification

Basseterre, St. Kitts, 8 March 2023 (PAHO) - The Joseph Nathaniel France (JNF) General Hospital in St. Kitts and Nevis is now certified as being Baby-Friendly.  Certification was granted in October 2022 and the official handing over of the plaque took place on 7 March 2023.    

To be certified as baby-friendly the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis followed the ten (10) steps to successful breastfeeding, a global standard against with maternal facilities are assessed and accredited.  These include:

  1. Complying with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk substitutes and relevant World Health Assembly resolutions;
  2. Ensuring that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding;
  3. Discussing the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and families;
  4. Facilitating immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mother to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth;
  5. Supporting mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties;
  6. Not providing breastfed newborns with any foods or fluids other than breastmilk unless medically indicated;
  7. Enabling mothers and their infants to remain together and practice rooming-in 24 hours a day;
  8. Supporting mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding;
  9. Counselling mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers;
  10. Coordinating discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care.

PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, Dr. Amalia Del Riego presented the plaque to Chief Medical Office Dr. Hazel Laws. 

From left PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, Dr. Amalia Del Riego and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws

She congratulated the country for achieving certification as a baby-friendly hospital and assured of continuous cooperation from PAHO to maintain this certification. “Having been certified as baby friendly signifies the hard work and dedication of the Ministry’s committed staff.  With the support of PAHO, St Kitts and Nevis have in place the breastfeeding policy, conducted staff capacity building, and the 10 steps for successful breastfeeding.”

From 2018, the new World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) guidance for implementing Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative aimed to provide universal coverage with appropriate care in public and private facilities, and sustainability with baby-friendly hospital fully integrated into the health system.

PAHO has on its agenda Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage and the practice of optimal breastfeeding. The practice of exclusive breastfeeding by mothers could prevent 823,000 deaths a year in children under 5, and 20,000 deaths per year in women due to breast cancer.

Breastfeeding also decreases the risk of mothers developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Short-term protective effect on children reduces the risk of disease and death from diarrhea, respiratory infections, otitis media, and sudden infant death syndrome.

Dr. Sharon Archibald, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health

Dr. Sharon Archibald, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health said, “the new status for the JNF General Hospital is proof that the maternity staff and midwives working in the communities have attained the high standards required to support breastfeeding.”  Mrs. Laytoya Duncan, Nutrition Surveillance Coordinator and BHFI Focal Point and her team were commended for spearheading the initiative and seeing it through to completion.

Mrs. Duncan spoke about the journey to achieve certification, thanking present and past staff for their dedication and hard work.

From left Dr. Hazel Laws and Mrs. Laytoya Duncan

“Five years ago, striving to make a difference in our communities, country and globally, the Ministry of Health Nutrition Surveillance program focused its efforts on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding through policies and initiatives that benefit the babies.”

Dr. Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions

Dr. Jenson Morton, Director of Health Institutions, assured that they would work to keep and maintain the certification standards.  “This entire initiative was definitely evidence of teamwork and all of us being in this together.  Just from picking up the small pieces and all the different individuals and actions that had to come together to make this successful it  is evident that teamwork can do tremendous things.”

The event was attended by the many nurses past and present who made the certification possible as well as PAHO personnel.