KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) aims to increase the percentage of private hospitals recognised as baby-friendly hospitals to 20 per cent, by 2025.

Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, said based on the latest data, only 22 or 12.6 per cent of the 175 private hospitals in Malaysia had been recognised as baby-friendly hospitals while all government hospitals had succeeded earlier.

“Having baby-friendly hospitals is important in improving the practice of exclusive breastfeeding, especially when many women are already aware of its benefits and importance.

“Breastfeeding is the best food for babies because it can also prevent babies from getting chronic diseases in the future,” he said at a press conference after officiating the World Breastfeeding Week, National Lactation Centre (NLC) level at Tunku Azizah Hospital, here today.

He said the MOH understood that private hospitals had their own constraints and did not set high targets but the government was working to achieve those targets.

In the meantime, Dr Noor Azmi said the MOH has its own guidelines in ensuring that mothers who are suspected or have been infected with COVID-19 can still feed their babies.

These include obtaining expressed milk from the mothers concerned to give to their babies or using donated milk.

“So the notion that mothers and their children must be separated or cannot receive milk when infected with COVID-19 is wrong because we have guidelines set to provide alternatives to mothers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Azmi opined that it was time for NLC to be upgraded to the National Lactation Institute, in line with the development and needs of its services in promoting, supporting and protecting breastfeeding in Malaysia.

“This NLC, which has existed for more than 13 years, is the lead agency for breastfeeding programmes and has shown various great achievements, including increasing the percentage of private hospitals that are recognised as baby-friendly hospitals.

“It also became a reference centre for expertise related to breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic, so I strongly support this (upgrading process) to be expedited,” he said.


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