A breastfeeding room at the state health directorate has remained unused since it was opened in 2015; it is being used by the food safety appellate tribunal.
The room, named Amrit Kaksh, was dedicated to women employees, including officers of the health department, on the World Breastfeeding Day in 2015; the theme of day was breastfeeding at the workplace.
Save the Children, an NGO that partnered with the National Health Mission to open the room, has decided to take up the closure of the room with health officials.
The room has remained closed though the state government pushes for breastfeeding to fight malnutrition and reduce neonatal mortality. The state has set up 13 human milk banks at hospitals in districts. The health department issued an order recently to ban formula, dairy, cow, goat and other milk for newborns at 11 government hospitals, which have Aanchal Mothers’ Milk Bank.
“It is very sad that the ‘kaksh’ (room) did not function even for a day,” said Sanjay Sharma of the NGO. He said the NGO had spent lakhs of rupees in setting up the facility, which also had a crèche for small children to play.
The room, said a health department official, was made in conformity with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. It had sofas for mothers to sit comfortably during breastfeeding, and a breast pump and a refrigerator to store milk. The room had arrangements for four women to breastfeed their kids at a time.
Inaugurating the room in 2015, the then health minister, Rajendra Rathore, had lauded the initiative and hoped that other government departments would follow suit. “It is important for us to provide a facility for mothers to breastfeed because mother’s milk saves infants from malnutrition and helps them develop immunity against diseases,” he had said.
Director (public health) Dr VK Mathur said, “The room’s closure was brought to my notice recently; I am looking into it.”
Devendra Agarwal, adviser to the state health department on the mother’s milk bank project, said he would find out the reasons for the room’s closure and ensure its restart soon. “I will raise the issue at the competent level,” he said.