An evaluation of the baby friendly hospital initiative at the Ho District Hospital

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In 1991 UNICEF/WHO launched the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) worldwide to create a global breastfeeding society. The program was in response to three important events; The Convention on the Right of the Child, The world Summit on Children and the Innocenti Declaration, all of which seek to protect the health and lives of children. The aim of the BFHI is to reach out to hospitals, maternity homes and clinics as well as parents and communities to provide support, encouragement and objective advice to mothers to be able to exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least four months or more. The Ho District is one of the hospitals, which was declared baby friendly in 1998. The main objective of this study is to evaluate the program to see the extent to which it has contributed to the prevalence and duration of exclusive breastfeeding in the study area. The sample population of the study consisted of mothers of babies aged 7-12 months and health workers directly involved in the program. Data collection methods used included interviews using questionnaires, focus group discussions, key informant interviews and review of literature. The study concluded that the program has on a high level helped increase the level of exclusive breastfeeding in the study area. However what needs to be done is to provide funding for the program so that it can revive the mother support groups, and to develop some incentive package for the health staff and the members of the mother support groups. There is also the need for the program organizers to provide equipment such as TV, video and flip charts to facilitate teaching and learning at the facility. Finally the breastfeeding education should not target only mothers but also other community members. This will help minimize the likely negative interference from them.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of in Health Services Planning and Management, 2002