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Press Release

More babycare rooms in public places encouraged to promote breastfeeding

2 Aug 2008

The Government spared no efforts in promoting breastfeeding and strived to create a supportive environment in the community, including the formulation of advisory guidelines to encourage more private and public organisations to provide babycare facilities in their premises.

The Permanent Secretary for Health and Food (Health), Ms Sandra Lee, made this remark while officiating at the Babycare Room Award presentation ceremony today (August 2).

The event aimed to commend organisations in the private and public sectors that provided desirable babycare facilities so as to encourage mothers to choose and maintain breastfeeding. It is jointly organised by the Department of Health (DH), Hospital Authority and the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative Hong Kong Association.

Ms Lee said reports from the public and private hospitals showed that the ever breastfeeding rate in Hong Kong increased from 55% for babies born in 2000 to 73% for babies born in 2007, representing an increase of 32%.

The breastfeeding surveys conducted in the DH's Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCHCs) indicated the same rising trend. Between the years 2000 and 2006, the percentage of babies breastfed continuously for six months increased from 14 % to 23%.

Ms Lee said these bore testimony to the fruitful efforts of DH, HA and non-governmental organisations. Yet, the provision of a supportive environment is of paramount importance in motivating more mothers to choose and sustain breastfeeding,

To this end, the Government is providing more babycare rooms in public places to facilitate breastfeeding. There are currently 106 government and public premises with babycare rooms, showing an increase of 14% as compared to 91 in 2006. The number will be further raised to about 146 in 2012.

The Food and Health Bureau, in addition, has embarked on a new initiative by inviting the Architectural Services Department, DH, Government Property Agency, Buildings Department, and Housing Department to formulate the Advisory Guidelines on Babycare Facilities. The guidelines will encourage incorporation of desirable babycare facilities in government and public areas.

Taking into account of the views of architectural experts and mothers with breastfeeding experience, the guidelines set out basic requirements of a desirable babycare room. These include requiring a babycare room not to be part of the toilet and it should be universally accessible with clear signage. An ideal babycare room should be in a hygienic setting and protect users' privacy.

The Government has been deploying the guidelines in designing public premises since June. It is expected that the Buildings Department will issue the guidelines for the reference of private sector after consulting the architectural industry.

Also present at the ceremony, the Director of Health, Dr P Y Lam, said DH has been committed to promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding. DH adopted the recommendations of the World Health Organisation in encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months after birth, with subsequent introduction of complementary food since the age of six months while continuing breastfeeding until the age of two or beyond.

Our MCHC colleagues are dedicated to help mother to identify and solve their problems when they encounter any difficulties on breastfeeding. Through structured training programme, all MCHC colleagues are competent in providing effective breastfeeding coaching to mothers In addition, to cater for the needs of breastfeeding working mothers, MCHC have launched a series of workshops to equip them with practical skills so that they could be better prepared to sustain breastfeeding after returning to work.

Dr Lam added that DH implemented a departmental policy to further promote breastfeeding among all staff members and support breastfeeding in the workplace in 2002. All service units are encouraged to support postnatal staff to continue breastfeeding after resuming duty. Besides providing appropriate facilities for expressing and storing breastmilk in the workplace, arrangements are made for the staff in need to express breastmilk during working hours.

Public nominations for the Babycare Room Award were received from late June to early July with good response. More than 600 nominations were submitted within two weeks. The Championship goes to the ELEMENTS, while the first and second runner-ups are the Hong Kong International Airport and Times Square respectively. The ifc mall and MegaBox won the two meritorious awards.

02 August 2008