Despite some social media fallout, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday said he is standing by the BREASTEE breast-feeding campaign.
Speaking to reporters, during the second edition of the North West Regional Health Authority’s (NWRHA) health fair on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain, Deyalsingh said he was disappointed by some of the negative feedback.
“It is a pity that a very noble campaign attracted that type of attention but that is not going to deter us from a noble project which is to get more and more mothers to breast feed their children, especially within the six months of their babies lives,” he said.
Deyalsingh said breast milk was the best food. “It has all the antibodies. So, it immunises the baby against a host of childhood diseases. It has the right mix of proteins. That aside, don’t let that detract from what is a noble, important project.” During the launch of the breastfeeding initiative, last week, NWRHA CEO, Wendy Ali, responded to some of the negative comments on social media, saying no one should feel offended when a woman breastfeeds a child in public. The on-line campaign featured photo of a member of staff dressed in a costume that looked like a breast and labelled BREASTEE, which is an acronym for Bonding mother and baby; Readily available; Easily digested; Antibodies; Sustainable; Temperature; Economical; Environmentally safe.
The costume was part of an in-house competition within the maternity department of the NWRHA’s Lactation Management Unit, which sought to encourage new mothers to breastfeed their newborns.
Yesterday, Ali again lamented the negative online comments about the campaign.
“It is quite unfortunate,” she said.
“Like I said, BREASTEE was an internal mascot that was developed by the nurses of the Lactation Management Unit. It was not meant to be rolled out on a national level.
“What we are doing at the North West Regional Health Authority is we are striving to make the Port of Spain General Hospital baby-friendly, in line with the WHO (World Health Organisation) requirements. And one part of that is to ensure that we have a successful breastfeeding programme.”
Ali said a nurse within the unit conceptualised the mascot to assist them with their anti-natal classes.
“We don’t want to remind people of milk in a bottle. We want to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding. So, it is unfortunate and I want to applaud my nurses for the initiatives that they have taken in the Lactation Management Unit and for the increase that we have gotten in breast-feeding.”
Ali urged employers to support breastfeeding mothers “because breast-fed is best fed.”