Hong Kong, 4 August 2015 – The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK), the Food and Health Bureau and Department of Health unveiled initiatives to help mothers in Hong Kong sustain breastfeeding through a campaign entitled ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ at the World Breastfeeding Week celebration today. The parties call for support for breastfeeding mothers in the community, with initial focus on the workplace.
A local study has revealed that returning to work is a main reason for most mothers in stopping breastfeeding in the first three months after delivery. The ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ Campaign was thus launched to echo this year’s theme of “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make it Work!” of the World Breastfeeding Week, to promote the establishment of breastfeeding friendly facilities to allow working mothers to continue breastfeeding after returning to work from maternity leave.
According to the results of the World Breastfeeding Week Annual Survey 2015 released by UNICEF Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Hong Kong Association (BFHIHKA), 86 per cent of mothers giving birth in 2014 had initiated breastfeeding on discharge from hospital, up from 84 per cent the year before. However, only 27 per cent of babies were exclusively breastfed at four months of age according to figures from Department of Health while the World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend exclusive breastfeeding for six months.
Dr Ko Wing-man, Secretary for Food and Health and officiating guest of the celebration event, said, “Since 2013, the Food and Health Bureau promulgated the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Policy (BFWP) to the Heads of government bureaux/departments. It includes provision of an appropriate and friendly environment for breastfeeding staff to express breastmilk in workplace in order to continue breastfeeding their children. By now, over 70 of government bureaux/departments have implemented the BFWP. We hope the government can be a role model to help drive support by the private sector to adopt similar practices.”
Dr Ko, along with representatives from UNICEF HK, Food and Health Bureau, Department of Health, Hospital Authority and UNICEF BFHIHKA, as well as UNICEF Regional Ambassador (East Asia and Pacific) Ms Miriam Yeung, officiated the launch of the ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ Campaign and pledged support at the ceremony today.
Last month, UNICEF HK, Food and Health Bureau, and Department of Health organized two business briefings on ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ campaign, which attracted about 200 representatives from different business sectors to attend. More than 30 organizations have already pledged to provide a breastfeeding friendly environment to its employers after the briefing. Among them, representatives from the Bank of East Asia, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Macquarie Group were present today to share their breastfeeding friendly workplace practices to inspire more corporations to ‘say yes’.
Recognizing that some organizations may be hesitant to participate in the campaign due to a lack of knowledge about how to support breastfeeding mothers at work, UNICEF HK has formed a well-trained volunteer outreach team who will visit and introduce the campaign to corporations and institutions which have expressed interest, and also provide advice on possible measures to support breastfeeding mothers based on their existing resources and facilities.
Ms Judy Chen, Chairman of UNICEF HK, said, “International studies have revealed that employees are more motivated and productive in a breastfeeding friendly workplace. We strongly encourage organizations, whether or not they have started implementing breastfeeding friendly measures, as well as individuals, to pledge their support by signing up on our campaign website.” Ms Chen also shared UNICEF HK’s breastfeeding supportive measures today, such as breastfeeding room, flexible arrangements on working hours as well as home office to respond to breastfeeding mothers’ needs.
Ms Miriam Yeung, a working mother who has breastfed his son exclusively for six months, also calls on employers to make breastfeeding work in the workplace. Ms Agnes Chan, UNICEF Japan Goodwill Ambassador, also showed her support through a video presence at the ceremony.
To educate the public about breastfeeding friendly workplace and encourage broader support in the community, a ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ exhibition is staged at Main Concourse, Podium Level 1, One International Finance Centre till 10 August. Organizations and individuals can contact UNICEF HK Community Outreach team at 2833 6139 to learn more about the campaign.