ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has established the first-ever ‘infant feeding room’ in parliament house to make it feasible for women lawmakers to bring their children under the age of two along with them.
Unicef set up the nursing room in collaboration with the federal health ministry.
The room was recently inaugurated by the Speaker of National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq in the presence of State Minister for Health Saira Afzal Tarar, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and Unicef Representative in Pakistan Angela Kearney.
Two rooms on the third floor of the parliament house have been designated for this purpose.
Last year in September, in an effort to promote breastfeeding and discourage bottle-feeding, the National Assembly secretary had agreed in principle to establish a designated room in parliament house for nursing mothers.
The need was felt when some of the working women at parliament house had to leave their babies at home. Therefore, just to facilitate them, this project has been completed in seven months.
While talking to The Express Tribune, Ministry of National Health Services Director Nutrition Dr Baseer Khan Achakzai said this nursing room will serve as a role model for provincial governments, ministries and other organisations like banks, universities, among others, to set up such designated rooms for nursing mothers.
This room will also help promote good hygiene practices while handling infants, he said.
Unicef, while following international protocols, has designed the room and equipped it with necessary things like baby coats, bed, microwave oven, fridge and baby pillows. Moreover, there are proper changing and washing areas for babies.
“Children in Pakistan are malnourished because breastfeeding rate is lower (38 per cent) than the bottle-feeding rate (41 per cent),” he said.
The room will have a few things to help mothers discourage bottle-feeding, said Achakzai.
He further said there will be a governess who will look after the babies and maintain the cozy and comfortable environment.
“Efforts will be made to convert it into a day care centre,” he said.