Eastern Cape hospital once again receives international Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative accreditation

Maternity unit receives a perfect score for breastfeeding procedures and policies

NETCARE Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape has, for the third consecutive year, received the highly sought after Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) accreditation following the recent, annual reassessment of the hospital.

The BFHI is a joint initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

The accreditation programme aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and quality infant care within hospitals across the globe. It also seeks to recognise and encourage medical facilities that have demonstrated excellence within their maternity units. Since its launch in 1991, the BFHI has accredited nearly 20 000 medical facilities worldwide and continues to accredit additional medical facilities which demonstrate an innovative approach and commitment to quality maternity care.

“The strategy for BFHI implementation in South Africa states that reassessments must be conducted every year in order to determine if the accredited hospital and its staff members continue to adhere to the criteria of the initiative,” explained Victor Mutle, general manager of Netcare Cuyler Hospital. “If there are any areas of non-compliance, the accreditation may be revoked, however if BFHI standards are upheld, the hospital retains its accreditation.”

Mutle was previously the manager of Port Alfred and Grahamstown Netcare Public Private Hospitals.

[pullquote]Mutle was previously the manager of Port Alfred and Grahamstown Netcare Public Private Hospitals.[/pullquote]

“Becoming a BFHI accredited facility in 2015 was a significant development for Netcare Cuyler Hospital, and retaining the accreditation for three years since then is a marvellous reflection of our staff and management’s passion for quality mother and baby care,” said Mutle. “It is a great honour to be counted among those facilities that continue to meet the criteria and the hospital staff and management were overjoyed upon receiving the news.”

The gruelling BFHI accreditation process compels medical facilities to examine, challenge and modify policies and procedures where required, in order to improve maternity care. Considerable emphasis is placed on skills development as well as the development and implementation of special auditing processes to measure the quality of maternity care.

[pullquote]Netcare Cuyler Hospital was the first hospital in the Eastern Cape to establish a breastmilk bank way back in 2008[/pullquote]

As the first hospital in the Eastern Cape to establish a breastmilk bank way back in 2008 – whereby donated breastmilk is distributed to premature babies whose mothers are unable to breastfeed – Netcare Cuyler Hospital’s innovative mindset clearly resonates with the BFHI’s ethos towards breastfeeding and infant care. This is evident in the perfect score that the hospital received during the most recent BFHI assessment of their breastfeeding procedures and policies.

Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, thanked and congratulated the staff members and management at the hospital, stating that the BFHI re-accreditation bears testament to their hard work, care and quality service. “We salute you for going the extra mile in living the Netcare values,” he said.

Looking to the future, Mutle said that the BFHI accreditation will continue to have a positive, long-term impact on the quality of care the hospital provides to the local community, as there is commitment to retaining the BFHI accreditation, which means that the hospital has to continue improving and developing its facilities and the staff members’ skills.

“As much as retaining the accreditation is an important accomplishment, it comes with great responsibility to uphold the high standards required to provide maternity and infant care worthy of the BFHI,” he said.

Mutle concluded by saying that Netcare Cuyler Hospital is ready to take on the next year’s challenges and is confident that it will maintain its BFHI accreditation for many years to come. “We have no intention of slowing down now, as all of us here at the hospital are passionate about quality healthcare. Our promise to our patients and their loved ones is that we will always strive to improve our service and care not only to our maternity patients but also to all our other patients.”