Celebrating ‘Breastfeeding Week,’ Medica Group of Hospitals, the leading private hospital chain in Eastern India, became the first private hospital in Eastern India to join hands with UNICEF for a special event to empower working mothers. On the 2nd and 3rd of August 2023, they are organizing a highly informative ‘Kangaroo Mother Care Workshop’ followed by an insightful ‘Breastfeeding Workshop’. On the 2nd of August, the distinguished attendees included Dr. Nicola Judith Flynn, MD, Head of Department – Paediatrics and Neonatology at Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Kolkata, along with Mr. R. Udayan Lahiry, Co-founder & Managing Director, Medica Group of Hospitals, and Mr. Ayanabh DebGupta, Co-founder, and Jt. Managing Director of Medica Hospitals. The workshops on 2nd August, were conducted by eminent Kangaroo Care Master Trainers, Sr. Parul Datta, senior nursing professional and paediatric and neonatal nursing faculty; formerly senior sister tutor, department of Neonatology at Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (IPGMER) and Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial (SSKM) Hospital Kolkata, West Bengal; Prof. Asim Mallick, Professor and In charge of the Neonatal Unit at NRS Medical College; and Dr. Bijan Saha, Associate Professor at IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. Dr. Vandana P Bhatia, the health officer of West Bengal from UNICEF was present for the event.
In 1992, WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action) launched Breastfeeding awareness to raise public support for breastfeeding due to declining rates and increased infant mortality. World Breastfeeding Week is now a collaborative effort by WHO, UNICEF & WABA. The 2023 theme is “ENABLING Breastfeeding: Making a difference for working parents”- highlighting challenges faced by working mothers.
At Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Kolkata, the Department of Paediatrics prioritizes breastfeeding mothers. They have a dedicated nursing area with comfortable seating, providing automatic and manual breast pumps, bottle warmers, and sterile bottles. The hospital maintains a monitored refrigerator for storing breastmilk, and lactating employees are encouraged to take breaks to express milk.
Some challenges include –
More than half a billion working women are not given essential maternity protection in national Laws.
Just 20% of countries require employers to provide employees with paid breaks and facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk. Fewer than half the infants under the age of 6 months are exclusively breast fed.
In West Bengal, UNICEF has taken a leading role in promoting breastfeeding and Kangaroo Mother Care through close collaboration with State government health facilities. This marks a significant milestone for UNICEF as it extends its expertise and support to the Department of Paediatrics at Medica, the first private hospital to receive such assistance. Together, they will provide training and certification to nurses and doctors not only from Medica but also from other metropolitan hospitals.
Dr. Nicola Judith Flynn, MD, Head of Department – Paediatrics, and Neonatology, Medica Superspecialty Hospital, Kolkata shared, “Breastfeeding is not only a vital tool to end preventable deaths but also a catalyst for economic and social prosperity. We must reiterate and emphasize the significance of early breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive nursing for six months, and sustained breastfeeding up to two years of age, we can eliminate 20,000 maternal deaths and 823,000 infant deaths annually. To support working breastfeeding mothers, a global mindset shift is essential. The challenges they face at work are numerous, but with awareness, education, and understanding, we can empower them to overcome these obstacles. Proper handling and preservation of breast milk are crucial to addressing the shortage faced by working women. Let us unite as stakeholders, prioritizing the mother and child, and coordinating efforts to provide continuity of care over the critical first 1000 days. Together, in our homes and workplaces, we can ensure a brighter future for today’s babies by supporting and empowering breastfeeding mothers.”
Mr. R. Udayan Lahiry, Co-founder & Managing Director, Medica Group of Hospitals stated, “Working alongside UNICEF for the first time to empower and certify our dedicated nurses and doctors has been a truly gratifying experience. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Vandana P Bhatia, UNICEF Health Officer West Bengal, whose unwavering support made this endeavor possible. I also extend my deepest gratitude to the exceptional trainers who generously contributed their time to this workshop. As we look forward to the future, we aspire to continue organizing such impactful events that strengthen healthcare and leave a lasting positive impact on our communities.”
Mr. Ayanabh DebGupta, Co-founder, and Jt. Managing Director of Medica Hospitals, also shared, “We at Medica Hospitals are wholeheartedly dedicated to the well-being of our patients, and it brings us immense pride to join hands with UNICEF as their partner for this vital initiative. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for our organization, reaffirming our commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of countless mothers and babies. Through this alliance, we embrace the opportunity to embark on a new journey—a journey of education, empowerment, and support for mothers, enabling them to embrace the beauty of breastfeeding and grant their babies the best possible start in life.”