The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), in collaboration with the Association of Healthcare Providers of India (AHPI), which comprises more than 12,000 private hospitals, has launched an accreditation programme that will enable hospitals to get a “breastfeeding-friendly” tag.
This programme is called “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI)”.
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.
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.
The accreditation process costs ₹17,000 per hospital.
The BFHI programme is a worldwide programme of the WHO and UNICEF. Though India adopted it in 1993, it fizzled out by 1998 and is now being revived after more than two decades.
Chennai’s Bloom Healthcare has become the first hospital to be recognised as “breastfeeding-friendly” under this programme.
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, which has improved only marginally from 41.6% during NFHS-4 (2015-2016).
In fact, many States such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh have shown a decline in the proportion of children breastfed within the first hour.