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UN launches Breastfeeding Room in Green One UN House

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C55A1104From left to right Excellency Mr Nguyen Viet Tien, Vice Minister of Ministry of Health, Mr Youssouf Abdel-Jelil holding a six months old baby of UN Viet Nam staff, Ms Pratibha Mehta, The UN Viet Nam Resident Coordinator. Photo: UN Viet Nam\2015\Truong Viet HUngHa Noi, 6 August 2015 - One of the youngest members of the UN Family in Viet Nam visited her mum's workplace today to witness a very special event. As one of its new clients, six month old Olivia Fernandez-Pacheco watched very carefully as the Breastfeeding Room was officially opened by the UN Resident Coordinator, Pratibha Mehta and Vice Minister of Health, Nguyen Viet Tien.

"We are delighted that we are launching the breastfeeding room today as our working mothers will not only be happier, but it will also help them to maximize their contribution. Breastfeeding is not just for the child, but for all of society" said UN RC Pratibha Mehta.

In spite of Vice-Minister Tien's hectic schedule he made time to join the UN because he believed it to be a very significant occasion. "On behalf of Vietnamese mothers, and Vietnamese people I really highly appreciate this important joint initiative by all the UN Agencies."

"Employers must encourage breastfeeding in the workplace to ensure that working mothers can provide their milk to their babies. We must establish lactation rooms as soon as possible, as it's an excellent nutritional investment in the next generation."

 

Breastfeeding at work – let’s make it work!
Photo: UN Viet Nam\2015\Truong Viet Hung

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 Once the ribbon was cut Olivia's mum, Patricia, the UN's Results Based Management Specialist, was eager to show off the new facilities. The lockable room is equipped with a pair of sinks, a fridge, and a baby changing station, easy chairs and helpful information. The arresting wall sized images were chosen by staff to serve both as a celebration of breastfeeding, as well as a source of ongoing inspiration. Community support is also provided through a dedicated discussion space on the UN-wide intranet, as well a network of nursing mums.

There are lifelong benefits to exclusively breastfeeding a baby for six months. It should be started immediately after birth, and then supplemented adequately with other feeding for at least two years. Children who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are 14 times more likely to survive than children who are not breastfed.

However, working women around the world face major challenges in combining work with breastfeeding. Ongoing support is needed from co-workers, families, and communities to create a dignified, enabling environment for breastfeeding.

"We are delighted that in the UN we are not just able to 'talk the talk' but also to 'walk the walk' said Ms Mehta. "We want to demonstrate our commitment to the most important human right of the newborn. Only through breast milk can the child acquire the highest level of immunity, which is important for survival, but even more important for thriving".

In recent years the Government of Viet Nam has taken critical steps to promote Breastfeeding, including the landmark decision in 2012 to extend paid maternity leave from four to six months. In doing so Viet Nam became a model to follow in the East Asia and Pacific region. The 2012 Law on Advertisement which bans on advertising of Breastmilk substitutes for infants up to 24 months was also further strengthened last year by the issuance of Decree 100 which aims to ensure that families are protected from misleading information that seeks to persuade mothers to give up breastfeeding in favour of artificial feeding.

Thao, a Senior Programme Officer in UNIDO and a nursing mother, captured the moment on behalf of staff. "We would like express our deep heartfelt gratitude for the new facility. This is a very meaningful action for working mothers to fulfill our dual role at work and at home. And in time I am sure it will contribute to Viet Nam's development with increased staff satisfaction and productivity."

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