With its goal of contributing to the realization of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and as part of the academe’s campaigns geared toward the promotion of health, Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho, University President, has announced on Monday, September 1 that Western Mindanao State University has recently been conferred with a “Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace” label—the only academic institution in Zamboanga Peninsula to have received the award.
Awarded by the Department of Health-Region IX on Friday, August 29 at the Garden Orchid Hotel, WMSU was among the 20 institutions—including hospitals—awarded with the noteworthy title. To wit are the agencies who are also recipients of the same award: Philippine Ports Authority, ZAMCELCO, Brent Hospital and Colleges, Inc., Ciudad Medical Zamboanga, Zamboanga Coca-Cola Bottlers, Phils., Social Security System, Western Mindanao Power Corporation, Universal Canning, Inc., Gold Star Foods Corporation, Century Pacific Foods Corporation, Ayala Seafood Corporation, Mega Fishing Corporation-Talisayan, Mega Fishing Corporation-Cawit, Department of Labor and Employment, Sta. Cruz Market (Informal Sector), Plaza del Pilar Lactation Center and Zamboanga City Health Office.
Dr. Gloria G. Florendo, Director of the Special Programs and Projects Office of WMSU received the award in behalf of the University President, Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho. Dr. Florendo, the proponent of the Lactation Program, said that the award has been granted to WMSU upon complying with the criteria given by DOH.
In addition to the Wellness and Lactation Center, the office has moreover been advocating exclusive breastfeeding through conducting regular seminars among women in the reproductive age not only in WMSU but in different communities as well.
“We tend to reach as many persons as possible as part of our strategy,” Dr. Florendo said.
She further reiterated that everyone can be an advocate of the cause—male or female, married or not, young or old because breastfeeding affects families and communities. “Even a child can have a share in encouraging their parents to practice breastfeeding,” she added.
The Lactation Center of WMSU is a result of health seminars attended by Dr. Florendo and some other officials where they were oriented with the law which requires all institutions or work places to have lactation centers. And to date, WMSU is the only school in Zamboanga Peninsula which has complied with Republic Act 10028 also known as the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 which stipulates that “…the state shall likewise protect working women by providing safe and healthful working conditions, taking into account their maternal functions, and such facilities and opportunities that will enhance their welfare and enable them to realize their full potential in the service of the nation.” At the Lactation Station, mothers are given privacy to feed their babies and to express and store milk.
WMSU’s Lactation Center was made possible through the funding from College of Nursing alumni and through the assistance of the University Health Services Center which has provided this project a nurse and a health aide to man the center and to look after the babies while their mothers are at work.
“We are enlisting the employees who we have learned are pregnant and we start with advocacy to prepare them to practice exclusive breastfeeding,” says Dr. Florendo.
Health Education is done to would-be mothers and before they give birth, SPPO sends letters to their obstetricians informing them that the employee is enlisted in the lactation program and thereby requesting the doctors that should there be a need to give the baby milk, it should not be formula, but breast milk.
“Part of our advocacy is we really go, try to see in the hospital and follow up,” the SPPO Director added.
As of press time, 12 WMSU employees are enlisted in the Lactation Program. Lactating mothers are granted at least 40 minutes lactation break within the 8-hour work period through a special order 000160 dated February 28, 2013, issued by the President, Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho.
(Mandy Dalugdug – Public Affairs Office, WMSU)