A senior health official in Kampong Thom province called on all departments and workplaces to set up rooms for new mothers to continue breastfeeding upon their return to work. This would be in line with Cambodia’s commitment to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants to 85 per cent by 2030.
Keo Davin, deputy director of the provincial Department of Health, made the call at the March 29 inauguration of the first dedicated breastfeeding room at the provincial hall and Department of Women’s Affairs. The administration collaborated with the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, Helen Keller International and German development agency GIZ’s MUSEFO Project.
“On behalf of the health department, I call on other departments and workplaces to consider establishing similar facilities to facilitate women resuming work to continue breastfeeding, in accordance with Articles 184 and 185 of the Labour Law,” she said.
At the ceremony, Chou Bunheang – deputy secretary-general of the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development and Rehabilitation – said that improving nutrition for infants and children is an inter-sectoral issue that requires participation from all parties. It demands practical investments in many areas, especially health, education and social protection.
He said the government saw the value of promoting best practice feeding of infants and children, as they are the nation’s future human capital – the basis of the national economy. Because of this, the government had used “breastfeeding” as the theme of two National Nutrition Days, in 2015 and 2019.
Speaking at the launch, Helen Keller International director Gwyneth Cotes said studies in other countries have found that projects that improve child feeding in factories and other workplaces provided a cost effective, practical solution to child nutrition issues.
These facilities also give women the opportunity to participate in important programmes such as nutrition and hygiene education, child rearing tips, diet and health advice, and labour law.
“I hope that lessons will be learned from this project, and that some adjustments in maternity leave will be considered. Lactation rooms are important in all workplaces so women can continue to breastfeed exclusively for six months, in accordance with the commitment of the government,” she said.
Sanne Sigh, GIZ’s MUSEFO Project representative, said: “One of the challenges for new mothers is that they have only three months of maternity leave, with only 50 percent of their salary being paid, which causes standard of living problems during and after childbirth.”
She said the these rooms would help women continue breastfeeding exclusively for six months and beyond. Breastfeeding is important for development and growth in the early stages of a child’s life, she added.
Sin Siphan, director of the province’s women’s affairs department, said that promoting breastfeeding in the workplace contributed to the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Five Year Strategic Plan “Neary Rattanak”.
The plan lists prevention and control of nutrition problems amongst its goals.
“Kampong Thom province has made a significant contribution to Cambodia’s commitment to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants and children from zero to six months by 85 per cent by 2030,” she said.
On the morning of March 4, the health ministry’s National Centre for Maternal and Child Health opened its own breastfeeding room.