Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog.
The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. As part of Let’s Move! in Indian Country, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has committed to certifying all IHS hospitals as Baby-Friendly by the end of 2014, and is proud to announce that to date, five of our facilities are now certified as Baby-Friendly.
Claremore Indian Hospital in Oklahoma and the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Arizona are the first hospitals in their respective states to receive this prestigious designation. Three other IHS facilities — the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility, Pine Ridge Hospital, and Rosebud Indian Hospital — received their certification in December 2012 and are the only hospitals in North and South Dakota to be designated as Baby-Friendly.
Improving health in early childhood is a critical pillar of the Let’s Move! initiative. IHS is working to reduce the risk that children will develop obesity and diabetes in the future by supporting new parents who choose to breastfeed.
The Indian Health Service (IHS) is the primary federal health care provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout Indian Country. In June 2011, IHS started its Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative to give clinicians the tools and information needed to support mothers who choose to breastfeed, giving those mothers information, confidence, and skills.
We are committed to making all our obstetric hospitals Baby-Friendly. We are pleased and proud that IHS hospitals are setting the standard for maternity care in so many states. Our work shows how this initiative can succeed in populations that will most benefit from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.
Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H., is the Acting Director of Indian Health Service, the Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.