28 Sep 2012
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety invited submissions on the development of a new ten-year Breastfeeding Strategy for Northern Ireland 2012-2022 between May and September 2012. The draft Breastfeeding Strategy 2012 – 2022 proposes further action in relation to breastfeeding and aims to protect, promote, support and normalise breastfeeding within the population of Northern Ireland.
Key points from IPH response
- IPH welcomes the commitment by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to develop a comprehensive long-term strategy to support women in Northern Ireland to breastfeed. The timeframe provides scope for developing clear long-term targets and actions and the embedding of breastfeeding culture into allied services, policies and programmes throughout Northern Ireland.
- The draft strategy’s recognition of the potential of breastfeeding as a means for tackling health inequalities forms a central theme of the IPH submission
- IPH welcomes the success achieved to date in improving breastfeeding. However, it is clear that the overall breastfeeding rate in Northern Ireland still lags behind the rest of the UK. Inequalities in breastfeeding rates remain an ongoing concern.
- IPH emphasises the importance of integrating the actions of the breastfeeding strategy with the strategic direction of overall public health policy in particular the forthcoming Fit and Well policy framework and early years strategies.
- IPH welcomes the inclusion of stipulations regarding weaning practices as an important component of the vision and one which, if achieved, will maximize the benefits from improving breastfeeding rates and duration.
- IPH strongly welcomes the commitment to targeting the benefits of breastfeeding to those children most in need – by virtue of those with additional health/ development needs and those children growing up in disadvantaged communities.
- IPH recommends specific targets or indicators on breastfeeding initiation and on reducing inequalities in breastfeeding.
- IPH supports the proposal to introduce legislation to supporting breastfeeding mothers in public places.
- IPH highlights the importance of the breastfeeding data from the longitudinal studies of children in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as a source of information in monitoring the long-term outcomes associated with breastfeeding. Positive outcomes evident from these large nationally representative samples of children would be particularly beneficial to supporting the implementation of the strategy as well as reinforcing the benefits of breastfeeding to the general public.
Access the original DHSSPS Consultation here