Baby Friendly Health Initiative funding must be restored

19 July 2017

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys has called on the HSE to ensure funding is continued for the Baby Friendly Health Initiative.

Senator Humphreys said:

“The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) is an international breastfeeding best practice strategy that is endorsed by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and is vital to maintain international standards for maternity hospitals and improve breastfeeding rates in Ireland.

“The organisation provides peace of mind for mothers and ensures that mothers and infants have the highest quality of breastfeeding practices readily available to them.

“Recently, the BFHI had their funding cut from the HSE.

“This is unacceptable and could significantly undo any progress that BFHI has done to improve breastfeeding rates in Ireland. Health specialists in the maternity hospitals have expressed their concern to me because they believe that BFHI has significantly benefited hospitals at the ground level.

“I raised this issue with the Minister for Health in the Seanad on July 12, 2017; his response was that the funding for BFHI was paused.

“The €50,000 cost to operate the BFHI is nothing compared to the possible 800 million euro our low breastfeeding rates are costing the HSE according to The Lancet Report.

“Breastfeeding significantly improves the health benefits to our infants and mothers.

“I am outraged that the international regulatory standard has been dropped by the HSE and will be working to ensure that the organisation will be funded in the future.”

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