Government strives to promote support for breastfeeding among different sectors of the community and the general public
The Under Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, today (December 6) chaired the Committee on Promotion of Breastfeeding meeting to review the progress and effectiveness of various measures for promoting and supporting breastfeeding and to discuss the ways to further enhance those measures.
Professor Chan said, "The Committee has formulated a three-year workplan. Apart from implementing various supportive initiatives on breastfeeding through the Department of Health (DH) and the Hospital Authority (HA), the action plans to encourage adoption of breastfeeding friendly workplace policy, promote breastfeeding friendly premises, enhance publicity and education on breastfeeding have been taken with the collaboration of the Government, and relevant parties and sectors of the community. Through the efforts in the past two years, it is encouraging to see that some of these measures have achieved satisfactory results."
The Government has adopted the following major initiatives to support and promote breastfeeding policy with a view to implementing the workplan drawn up by the Committee:
- The Government attaches great importance in providing appropriate support to lactating mothers when they return to work. The Food and Health Bureau (FHB) proactively encourages government bureaux and departments (B/Ds) to implement the "breastfeeding friendly workplace" policy by putting in place the breastfeeding friendly measures so as to facilitate employees to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. So far, more than 75 B/Ds have already implemented the relevant policy. In May 2015, FHB issued letters to more than 450 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private enterprises to promote and encourage them to implement measures of breastfeeding friendly workplaces.
- The Government also actively promotes "breastfeeding friendly premises" in public places in order to promote community support towards breastfeeding and create a friendly environment towards lactating mother. For instance, the Government has been proactively promoting the provision of babycare facilities in government offices and public places. The "Advisory Guidelines on Babycare Facilities" were developed as early as August 2008 to provide reference to government departments and public sectors. As at June 2016, a total of 271 babycare rooms are set up in government premises. Furthermore, the Government issued the "Practice Note on the Provision of Babycare Rooms in Commercial Buildings" in February 2009 to encourage and facilitate the provision of babycare rooms in private commercial premises. The response of property developers to this measure was positive. For instance, babycare rooms have been provided in shopping malls and the Urban Renewal Authority has taken reference to the Practice Note and made the provision of babycare rooms a mandatory tendering requirement for all medium-to-large shopping malls. As a result of the promotional efforts of the Government in the past years, babycare and breastfeeding facilities have been made available in many large department stores and hotels. To further increase the number of breastfeeding friendly premises, the DH had formulated the "Guide to Establishing Breastfeeding Friendly Premises" in May 2015 for reference by public premises interested in promoting breastfeeding friendly environment. In June 2016, FHB issued letters to more than 470 private enterprises and organisations to encourage them to implement "breastfeeding friendly premises" policy in public places owned or managed by them. The DH has organised a number of briefings on the relevant policy. The briefings were attended by representatives from 66 organisations and enterprises. DH’s staff were also sent to organisations interested in implementing the relevant policy to assist their staff to receive appropriate training.
- To further enhance the support from various sectors of the community on breastfeeding, the FHB, the DH and the Hong Kong Committee for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF HK) have jointly launched a promotion campaign entitled "Say Yes to Breastfeeding" since July 2015. The campaign aims to encourage private organisations to implement a breastfeeding friendly policy in workplace and encourage public places, big and small, to introduce breastfeeding friendly initiatives. In addition, they collaborated in May this year to launch the promotion campaign "Breastfeeding Friendly Mall" to encourage shopping malls to implement breastfeeding friendly policy supporting lactating mothers to breastfeed anywhere anytime. The Government also encourages public transport facilities to adopt breastfeeding friendly premises policy. Positive responses were received. The responsible government department has been closely liaising with the operators.
- The DH and the UNICEF HK have also collaborated with the Hong Kong Catering Industry Association to introduce and promote "breastfeeding friendly premises" measures to the catering industry. As at October 2016, more than 80 restaurants had implemented "breastfeeding friendly premises" measures.
- To echo the Baby Friendly Hospital (BFH) Initiative, a worldwide programme of the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the HA has been implementing the initiative in its eight public hospitals with maternity wards and encouraging them to become BFH in phases. The Queen Elizabeth Hospital was accredited internationally as Hong Kong’s first BFH in May 2016. The objective of the BFI Initiative is to remove elements obstructing breastfeeding in medical institutions, including hospitals, clinics and mother and baby centres, and to support more mothers to sustain breastfeeding through the provision of services and guidance. In June 2016, three Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC), namely, Sai Ying Pun MCHC, Kowloon City MCHC and Yaumatei MCHC, under the purview of DH have implemented a pilot scheme of Baby-Friendly MCHC Accreditation. The target is to complete the accreditation within three years.
"The breastfeeding rate in Hong Kong over the past 20 years has been on the rise. The breastfeeding rate on hospital discharge has increased from 24 per cent in 1992 to 89 per cent in 2015. The result of a DH’s telephone survey conducted last year revealed that nearly 80 per cent of the respondents found it acceptable to have lactating mother breastfeeding near them in public places. About 90 per cent of the respondents agreed that a public venue should implement breastfeeding friendly measures. Nearly 90 per cent of the respondents agreed on implementing these measures in workplace. The results revealed that the community is becoming more acceptable and supportive to breastfeeding though there is still room for improvement in boosting the supportive atmosphere for breastfeeding anytime and anywhere. This shows that more promotion work by the Government is required. The Committee will continue to monitor the implementation of the measures under the workplan and review their effectiveness; explore initiatives to promote breastfeeding more effectively; step up co-operation with different organisations and sectors in the community to actively solicit acceptance, respect and support to lactating mothers by different sectors as well as the general public. Then, Hong Kong will become a city genuinely respect and support breastfeeding," said Professor Chan.
The Committee on Promotion of Breastfeeding was set up by the FHB in April 2014 under the chairmanship of the Under Secretary for Food and Health. Members include representatives from relevant healthcare professionals, academia and representatives of the organisations that have participated in the promotion of breastfeeding. The Committee provides specific recommendations and supervision on strategies and action plans to further strengthen the promotion, protection and support for breastfeeding. Its objectives are to enhance the sustainability of breastfeeding and promote breastfeeding as a norm for babycare widely accepted by the general public.
Ends/Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:41
Issued at HKT 21:41