Friday, 18 January 2013

MALTA Committed to Protect Breastfeeding



The situation of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Malta has been revised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at its 62nd session on January 17th 2013. IBFAN has prepared an alternative report on the situation of breastfeeding in Malta. 

During the interactive dialogue with the Committee, the issue of breastfeeding was tackled.
The Committee members raised questions concerning the measures Malta is taking for increasing breastfeeding – whose rates are very low in the Country – as it is an important component for raising emotionally healthy children. The Maltese delegation stated that health campaigns to encourage breastfeeding have raised the rate of breastfeeding from 35% in 1990 to 56% in 2011*. There are ongoing efforts and initiatives to promote breastfeeding such as guidelines for breastfeeding rooms in public places, new breastfeeding policy in hospitals (created last November).

The Committee asked the delegation what measures are in place to regulate the marketing of infant formula which may explain the low rates of breastfeeding in the country. The Committee wanted to know whether there are baby friendly hospital initiatives in the country and what support is given to mothers in the hospitals, noting that births mostly occur in those premises and data in the possession of the Committee show very low initiation to breastfeeding. The Maltese delegation informed that services for breastfeeding are available within the hospitals and in community health centers. There are regulations on the marketing of baby formula and a directive is being discussed that, once adopted, will put Malta in line with the European Union.

The Committee members also noted that maternity leave from work has been recently elevated to 18 weeks and this could have an effect on breastfeeding. The delegation pointed out that it is not yet possible to assess the impact of the new law on breastfeeding as it has been operative for only 3 weeks now. In any case, working mothers have the possibility to use family friendly measures, work more from home, have more flexible work hours or have a reduction of working hours.

Overall, breastfeeding is on the increase, even though the statistics are still not satisfying. The delegation agreed that breastfeeding is the best solution for the child and they committed to increase awareness campaigns on breastfeeding.

 *The delegation of Malta probably referred to the rate of exclusive breastfeeding at 0 months, as it is the only data available along with initiation to breastfeeding.