© Family Health Service, Department of Health/ 2016
HONG KONG, 30 July 2016 – The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF HK), in collaboration with the Department of Health, the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Hong Kong Association (BFHIHKA) and the Hospital Authority, today celebrate World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) 2016 and promote public awareness of supporting breastfeeding.
WBW is celebrated annually in the first week of August in more than 170 countries. The theme for this year is “Breastfeeding: A Key to Sustainable Development”. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies should be breastfed exclusively in the first six months. Thereafter, solid foods should be introduced while breastfeeding can continue until the child is 2 years old or above.
Addressing the event, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said breastfeeding not only provides the best nutrition for babies, but also strengthens the immunity of babies, promotes emotional bonding between mothers and children, and benefits babies’ growth and development. It also supports the sustainable development of society as it is both convenient and environmentally friendly.
The Government has all along been committed to promoting and supporting breastfeeding and the breastfeeding rate in Hong Kong over the past 20 years has been on the rise. The breastfeeding rate on hospital discharge increased from 19 per cent in 1992 to 89 per cent in 2015, while the exclusive breastfeeding rate among 4-month-old babies reached 27 per cent for those born in 2014.
In April 2014, the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) set up the Committee on Promotion of Breastfeeding, which has recommended multi-pronged strategies including strengthening support by healthcare facilities, encouraging the adoption of breastfeeding-friendly workplace policies and promoting breastfeeding-friendly premises.
“Currently, more than 75 government bureaux and departments have implemented breastfeeding friendly workplace policies. By taking the lead, the Government aims to encourage the private sector and non-governmental organisations to follow suit,” Dr Ko said.
During the event, the Vice-chairperson of the BFHIHKA, Dr Leung Wing-cheong, said, “To facilitate exclusive breastfeeding, healthcare workers should provide more support to mothers while they are in hospital. The implementation of the WHO’s ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding’ in hospital is the cornerstone to promoting exclusive breastfeeding.”
Also attending the event, the Chief Executive of UNICEF HK, Ms Jane Lau, said, “Last August, UNICEF HK launched the ‘Say Yes to Breastfeeding’ campaign, with support from the FHB and the DH, to establish breastfeeding-friendly environments at workplaces and public premises. So far, the campaign has received support from over 80 workplaces and 80 restaurants, and is gaining momentum at shopping malls and the public transport sector. We will continue to promote public support and encourage more sectors to cultivate a welcoming environment for breastfeeding mothers.”