By Jennifer C. Tilos
DUMAGUETE CITY, August 6, 2013 (PIA)– The Negros Oriental Provincial Health Office (NOPHO) has launched recently the first Breastfeeding Station in a mall for its continued support to the private-public partnership program of the government.
Provincial health officer Dr. Dante Domingo said the proprietor of Cang’s Shopping Complex and the IMAP Lying-in Clinics in Dumaguete City in cooperation with the provincial government forged a collaboration for the promotion of the existing maternal and child health in the province.
Dr. Domingo said this is a commitment of the province to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, as the Department of Health generates initiatives for the promotion of maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition (MNCHN) strategy.
This strategy intends to guide local government units in delivering effective MNCHN services through its mandate on the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding from birth up to six months with sustained breastfeeding up to 24 months, explained Dr. Domingo.
Meanwhile, more than 100 mothers with their babies, children, husbands, families and support system to gather on August 3 to build a breastfeeding nation in “Hakab Na!: A Breastfeeding Mob” to be held at Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate, with simultaneous gatherings in Davao, Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod. The event is the first of its kind in the Philippines.
Spearheaded by the Facebook Group called Breastfeeding Pinays, the activity seeks to promote women’s right to breastfeed and the importance of providing proper support to breastfeeding mothers.
This is consistent with the theme for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week 2013, “Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers.”
The campaign is one of the key events in the celebration of August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month.
According to Velvet Escario-Roxas, a breastfeeding guru and one of the administrators of the group, the Philippines still lacks the necessary support and benefits for breastfeeding mothers despite the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, including implementation of paid lactation breaks, lactation rooms and policies.
“Breastfeeding in this country is a national health crisis,” said Escario-Roxas. “Although breastfeeding rates have steadily gone up over the years through efforts by different government, non-government organizations and medical communities, there is still so much to be done.Forming this online support group of mothers and gathering together is one of our contributions to the cause.”
The activity also aims to remove the stigma of nursing in public. “We want to create a harmonious culture of breastfeeding in the Philippines. We want to encourage mothers to become more confident while breastfeeding in public,” said Benz Co-Rana, founder of Newlyweds@Work, also an online community of parents that promotes breastfeeding.
To breastfeed successfully, the mother needs a stronger, well-informed support system from the hospital, the home and the workplace, stressed Co-Rana who successfully breastfeed her two children until they were two years old.
“This is why for this campaign, we have everybody present, not just the mothers. We have the fathers, grandparents—everyone—to emphasize the need to support the breastfeeding mothers, and ultimately help raise a healthy and happy child,” Co-Rana added.
Breastfeeding Pinays partnered with Kaya Women Empowerment and Support Group, LATCH (Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling, Help), Arugaan, Newlyweds@Work, Tickled Moms, Davao’s Mommy Sense, Cagayan De Oro’s Mommy Bright Side, the Bacolod Mom and Baby Club, and bloggers Jenny Ong (Chronicles of a Nursing Mom) and Eliza Ypon (The Painter’s Wife) in organizing this activity.
The Breastfeeding Pinays Facebook Group seeks to address the need for local community support for breastfeeding mothers. By providing easily accessible and proper information to mothers and their support systems, the Breastfeeding Pinays community has become a lifeline for mothers with breastfeeding problem, questions and issues. Trained peer counselors support the community.
In just six months since its opening in early 2013, the community has grown to more than 3,500 members, with more users joining everyday.
Aside from online support, members of the community also conduct small weekly meet-ups to hold “hands-on” learning sessions on hand expression, cup feeding and self-lactation massage. The meet-ups also address breastfeeding challenges, problems and difficulties.
Visit the Facebook Event “Breastfeeding Pinays: Hakab na! A Breastfeeding Mob”. The event is free and open to the public. Media coverage is requested. (mbcn/JCT/PIA7-Negros Oriental)