Hon Wendy C. Phipps, Minister with Responsibility for Health, Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Sept. 3 to 7 Breastfeeding Week will feature a week of activities recognized under the theme, “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life,” according to Hon Wendy C. Phipps, Minister with Responsibility for Health, Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs.

Senator Phipps address, marking commemoration of the event appears here:
Fellow Citizens and Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis:

“The Federal Ministry of Health is celebrating Breastfeeding Week from Sept. 3-7. This week of activities is being recognised under the theme “Breastfeeding: Foundation for Life.”

“This is an ideal occasion for us to be reminded of the benefits of breastfeeding while supporting and encouraging the time-honoured maternal practice, in order to improve the health and wellness of babies in our Federation.

“The Ministry of Health also views Breastfeeding Week as a time for all of us to be mindful of the fact that breastfeeding is a natural and progressive building block that should immediately follow pregnancy and childbirth so that our Nation’s children will have the best chance at living strong, resilient lives where illnesses, diseases and nutrition deficiencies are minimized during the entire life course.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) is the leading global advocate of breastfeeding. The premiere health agency has concluded that if newborns are breastfed within one hour after birth their chances of survival are increased exponentially. The WHO further asserts that on an annual basis the lives of some 823,000 infants under the age of five could be spared if breastfeeding practices are improved. Sadly, however, it is being reported that only two out of every five newborns are breastfed within one hour of birth. Additionally, only 40 percent of children under the age of six months are being breastfed exclusively. The other 60 percent are being fed a combination of breast milk and complementary food.

“The general public should note that St. Kitts and Nevis’ celebration of Breastfeeding Week is, in large measure, a commemoration of the “Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding” which was endorsed in Florence, Italy in 1990 by the United Nations (UN) Member States. Essentially, this Declaration acknowledged that the practice of breastfeeding provides infants with the best nutrition possible in early life, lowers the likelihood of infant deaths and disabilities, while benefitting mothers with lower risks of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

“The Innocenti Declaration also advocated for solid breastfeeding of babies from birth to 4-6 months of age, and continuation of breastfeeding up to two years and beyond once such is complemented with other foods. It was emphasized that women should be free to practice breastfeeding in both the workplace and the community, and that any barriers to such must be eliminated. By extension, the Declaration also called on governments to establish positive breastfeeding policies that (1) are inclusive of advocacy for the practice in maternal and child health programming; (2) facilitate access to information, advice and support to breastfeeding mothers; (3) have built-in targets to ensure that more and more mothers are breastfeeding in order to maximize the chances of a good nutritional foundation of their babies; and (4) train health educators on the benefits and skill-sets regarding breastfeeding.

“The Innocenti Declaration that we are commemorating during this celebration of Breastfeeding Week would have outlined 10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding to be followed by all Governments and private sector agencies when providing maternity services to mothers and expectant mothers. These steps are as follows:

“Having a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
“Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this breastfeeding policy.
“Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
“Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within a half-hour of birth.
“Showing mothers how to breastfeed, and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.
“Giving newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.
“Practicing rooming-in — allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24-hours-a-day.
“Encouraging breastfeeding on demand.
“Giving no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants.
“Fostering the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

“As Minister of State with responsibility for health, I am happy to report that at all 17 of our Nation’s health centres and four hospitals, these critical steps are being practiced and encouraged by our health care workers, particularly those charged with maternal and child health programming. I take this opportunity to commend all of our public sector healthcare workers for their untiring efforts in the encouragement and advocacy of breastfeeding among nursing and expectant mothers in our country.

“It was understood that the 1990 Innocenti Declaration would be periodically reviewed to assess its success. One such evaluation was done in 2005 – again in Florence, Italy – with a view to determining how much progress had been made by the UN member countries in the advocacy, promotion and practice of breastfeeding. The result was a revised declaration on “Infant and Young Child Feeding” that also sought to ensure children’s right to adequate nutrition. Five (5) additional targets were added to the revised Innocenti Declaration, which are as follows:

Five Additional operational targets:
1. “Develop, implement, monitor and evaluate a comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding, in the context of national policies and programmes for nutrition, child and reproductive health, and poverty reduction.
2. “Ensure that the health and other relevant sectors protect, promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond, while providing women access to the support they require – in the family, community and workplace – to achieve this goal.
3. “Promote timely, adequate, safe and appropriate complementary feeding with continued breastfeeding.
4. “Provide guidance on feeding infants and young children in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and on the related support required by mothers, families and other caregivers.
5. “Consider what new legislation or other suitable measures may be required, as part of a comprehensive policy on infant and young child feeding, to give effect to the principles and aim of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk substitutes and to subsequent relevant World Health Assembly resolutions.

“A full programme for the 2018 observance of Breastfeeding Week has been prepared by the Nutrition Programme staff within the Ministry of Health. The highlights of these activities are as follows:

“Practical Demonstrations of Breastfeeding on Tuesday, Sept. 4 – at our various health centres on St. Kitts and Nevis;
“Video Education via the Joseph N France Hospital and other Health Facilities to be held on Wednesday, Sept. 5;
“Video Education via Digital Screens in Public Places to be held on Thursday, Sept. 6; and
“Breastfeeding Community Education: Stop & Talk” to be held Friday, Sept. 7.

“The Federal Ministry of Health congratulates the staff of the Nutrition Surveillance Programme for their efforts in planning and preparing for this week of activities in recognition of the importance of Breastfeeding to infant health and development.

“The Ministry’s management team salutes their efforts and those of our nurses and midwives; general healthcare practitioners; and obstetricians, gynaecologists and paediatricians who tirelessly advocate that our people should – from birth through natural death – have every opportunity to lead whole and productive lives free of illness, disease, and disability through the promotion of breastfeeding from birth, and the adoption of healthy diets and lifestyle practices that together help to make us a healthy and prosperous Nation.

On behalf of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis I am pleased to declare Breastfeeding Week 2018 in the Federation officially open.

May God bless us all.