Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative: Private hospitals to be tagged for being breastfeeding-friendly

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In India, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) has been launched to help mothers identify “breastfeeding-friendly” hospitals before they give birth.


The Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was launched by WHO and UNICEF in 1991, following the Innocenti Declaration of 1990. The initiative is a global effort to implement practices that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

India adopted this initiative in 1993. But it fizzled out by 1998 and is now being revived after more than two decades.

Who has launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative(BFHI) in India?

Launched by: Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) in collaboration with the Association of Healthcare Providers of India(AHPI).

Purpose: It is an accreditation programme that will enable hospitals to get a breastfeeding-friendly tag. 

Coverage: The initiative is only for private hospitals and is based on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare’s MAA programme for government hospitals launched in 2016.

Certification Process: The certification process involves two stages — the first stage includes self-assessment by a hospital, followed by an external assessment by an authorised appraiser who interviews doctors, nurses and patients as well as reviews different practices and training of staff. This complete accreditation process costs ₹17,000 per hospital.

Note: The tools for this evaluation process have been developed in partnership with the Health Ministry and World Health Organisation

Why is this BFHI Initiative launched in India now?

Firstly, early initiation of breastfeeding continues to be low in the country. According to the National Family Health Survey-5(2019-2021), while there were 88.6% institutional births, only 41.8% of infants were breastfed within the first one hour (Golden Hour) which has improved only marginally from 41.6% during NFHS-4 (2015-2016).

Secondly, the rise in C-Sections is also known to negatively impact breastfeeding rates. During caesarean operations, everyone is focused on recovery, wound surgery, infection control and breastfeeding within the golden hour is missed. 

Note: Cesarean delivery (C-section) is a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus.

Source: This post is based on the articlePrivate hospitals to be tagged for being breastfeeding-friendly published in The Hindu on 20th Dec 2021.

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