Tuesday 24 September 2013

Lithuania's lack of support for breastfeeding programme implementation

Lithuania presented its consolidated 3rd and 4th periodic reports on the situation of the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the country. The consolidated 5th to 6th periodic report is expected by November 2018.
The IBFAN alternative report of Lithuania was prepared by the Initiative group of breastfeeding mothers and breastfeeding promoters of NGO "Pradžių pradžia" (IBFAN Lithuania). The report reflected the ‘Declaration on Breastfeeding Support and Relate Issues in Lithuania’ which was addressed to the highest authorities such as the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education of the Republic of Lithuania, and was also shared with all universities and medical colleges and faculties of the country during the World Breastfeeding Week in 2011.

The report shows that in Lithuania, executive health policy does not direct any attention towards an integral programme on protection, support and promotion of breastfeeding. Dissemination of evidence-unbased information and misleading advertising is the key reason for refraining from breastfeeding or choosing a comparatively short period of breastfeeding. Article 24 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child is not appropriately respected and no mechanisms exist for control of its implementation: a comparatively large number of mothers continue refraining from or choose especially short periods of breastfeeding[1]. Thus, responsible state bodies that do not take action to encourage mothers to feed infants in a natural way, fail implementing public health strengthening actions based on disease prevention, which results in increased personal health care costs and sickness benefits. Currently, no substantial actions are taken to upgrade breastfeeding-related qualifications of health care specialists. Certain seminars on nutrition of infants and children for health care specialists are supported and organized by companies distributing breastmilk substitutes which violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitute and resolutions. What is more, accessibility to personal health care services for breastfeeding women is not sufficiently communicated and organized. There are very few baby-friendly hospitals and in other health care institutions, the quality of services is very low or services that ensure successful breastfeeding are nonexistent. Consequently, a birth-giving mother, limited by time and distance, cannot freely choose a health care institution. Mothers and newborns experience discrimination as they end up in a hospital without the BFHI status.

During the discussion between the government delegation and the CRC Committee, issues related to breastfeeding were not discussed.
Concluding Observations
We regret that the CRC Committee has made no specific recommendation on infant and young child feeding to the government of Lithuania in its Concluding observations.
In par. 39 and 40 regarding health care and services, the Committee regretted the decreasing budget allocations to maternal and child health care programmes. It reminded Lithuania to pay attention to its General Comment no. 15 (2013), which insists on “the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, and recommends that the State party take measures to increase its budget allocations for maternal and child health programs. The Committee also recommends that the State party ensure maternal care for women who choose to deliver at home by providing access to emergency obstetric care, trained care at delivery, and post partum care.”

[1] Statistical data of research made at Health authority of Lithuania show that: just 30% of infant are breastfeed more than 0,5 year. For more see: http://www.tavovaikas.lt/kudikis/mityba-ir-sveikata/isaiskejo-kiek-sutaupo-seima-per-metus-maitinant-kudiki-krutimi.d?id=62015889

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