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BFUSA Clarifies WHO Documents

November 10, 2017

There is a great deal of confusion in the BFHI and lactation communities right now regarding two documents recently released by the WHO. We want to do our best to clear up the misunderstanding and keep you informed.

The confusion springs from the fact that the WHO released two critically important documents with no notice, just weeks apart from each other. Adding to the confusion is the fact that, although these two documents serve different purposes, they have almost the same name.

First Document: Proposed Revised Operational Guidance for the BFHI
The first document, which was released on October 11, is the proposed new BFHI operational guidance. Titled “Protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services: the revised Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative 2017,” this document was open for public comment until October 29. You can access this first document here.

Second Document: Updated Evidence for the 10 Steps
The second document, which was released on November 3, is the updated scientific evidence for the 10 Steps, which is cited as reference #34 in the first document. This second document, which is similarly titled “Protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services,” went through WHO’s Scientific Guideline Development process and is not open for public comment. You can access this second document here.

WHO protocols are such that all Ministries of Health and BFHI National Authorities received these documents at the same time as the general public. We provided extensive feedback to the WHO on the proposed revised guidelines (the first document) by their original deadline of October 24. We are happy to inform you that the WHO has decided to delay publication of this document until there can be further consultations with the BFHI Network and other global breastfeeding organizations.

We are currently in the process of reviewing the 150 pages of scientific evidence in the second document to determine what (if any) adjustments need to be made to BFUSA’s Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria. This process will take some time and any adjustments will be made public at the appropriate time.

In the meantime, we are continuing to adhere to our current Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria and the current standards will remain in place for the foreseeable future. Once again, we encourage you to stay the course in implementing the current standards and will advise you if and when any official changes are made to the initiative.

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