Inuvik Regional Hospital first Arctic Hospital to receive Globally Recognized Baby-Friendly Designation

Inuvik (December 7, 2018) - On December 6 the Inuvik Regional Hospital
celebrated receiving their Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) Designation, making them the first facility in the three Territories to achieve this designation.

The BFI Designation is a worldwide initiative established by the World Health
Organization that supports family-centred maternity and newborn care practices,
and promotes breastfeeding.

Inuvik Regional Hospital and their BFI Committee have been actively working to improve maternal and newborn care for many years. To receive the Baby-Friendly designation, the hospital went through a comprehensive external assessment of maternity care practices that included an audit of files, interviews with clinical and non-clinical staff, interviews with mothers who had recently given birth in the facility, and a review of policies the facility’s and procedures.

As a result of Inuvik’s significant efforts, infants and their families are receiving the highest quality of care and support. During the assessment of the program,
mothers interviewed were very pleased with the care they received, stating they
received consistent infant feeding education and support, regardless of if they
chose to breast or bottle feed.

Receiving this designation is a significant stride towards one of the GNWT’s
priorities from the Early Childhood Development Action Plan (2017-2020), that aims to support NWT facilities to achieve and maintain their BFI designations and to promote community-based breastfeeding and prenatal nutrition programs. This significant accomplishment was the result of the consistent efforts of multiple staff, leaders, community partners and families in the town of Inuvik.

To build on this precedent, and sustain momentum across the entire Territory, the
Department of Health and Social Services and NTHSSA are pleased to announce that the NWT will be hosting the next national Baby Friendly Initiative Symposium on October 1-3, 2019 in Yellowknife. This symposium is coordinated by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada and will host experts - policy makers, health care providers, administrators, NGOs, community partners and infant feeding champions - from across Canada and locally. Participants will learn about strategies to meet recommendations and best practices for maternity and community services to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. The 2019 Symposium will also focus on issues important to support national reconciliation efforts.



“Receiving the Baby-Friendly designation is a tremendous accomplishment for
Inuvik Regional Hospital and our system. It demonstrates our commitment to
supporting maternal and infant care. Across the NTHSSA we are committed to
providing the best care and services to all residents and we will continue to work
towards BFI designations in other facilities throughout our operations.”

 -Sue Cullen, CEO of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority



“This designation ceremony welcomes Inuvik Regional Hospital into the growing
global community of Baby-Friendly Hospitals - hospitals officially recognized as
meeting World Health Organization standards of practice. The first few days in the life of a new family is a vulnerable time - a time when care and support received has impacts lasting a lifetime. Breastfeeding benefits babies, families and the community. Baby-Friendly care supports breastfeeding and the development of strong families. Congratulations to everyone at Inuvik Regional Hospital.

-Marina Green, Co-Chair of the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada


Quick Facts

  • Inuvik Regional Hospital was the first Facility in the three territories to receive their Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) Designation, and the most northern Canadian Facility to have the designation.
  • At Inuvik Regional Hospital, the breastfeeding initiation and exclusivity rates from birth to discharge from the hospital, are 81.3% based on data collected from January 1, 2018 to October 6, 2018. When medical indications for human milk substitute’s data are included, this figure increases to 93.8%.
  • Receiving this designation is a significant step towards one of the key action items from the Early Childhood Development Action Plan for 2017-2020, that aims to support facilities to achieve and maintain their BFI designation, and continue to promote community-based breastfeeding and prenatal nutrition programs.
  • The Baby Friendly Initiative is a globally recognized program and designation, led by the World Health Organization. The initiative consists of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the WHO International Code of Marketing the Breast Milk Substitutes.
  • In Canada, the BFI is overseen by the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada (BCC), the national authority for the BFI appointed by Health Canada/Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • The BFI external assessment was conducted as part of the last step to achieve the Baby Friendly designation, and involved the assessment of current maternal care practices through an audit of files, interviews with staff (clinical and non-clinical), interviews with mothers, and a review of facility policies and procedures.
  • A few of the 10 steps that the Inuvik Regional Hospital achieved include having an infant feeding policy, working with pregnant moms to support informed infant feeding decision making, supporting mothers to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months, placing babies in uninterrupted skin-to skin contact with their mothers immediately after birth, and assisting mothers through challenges they may face with infant feeding.
  • Currently four other health facilities in the NWT are also working towards their baby friendly designation, including Hay River Regional Health Centre, Stanton Territorial Hospital, Yellowknife Public Health, and Fort Smith Health Centre.

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Media Contact

Lisa Giovanetto
Intern Communications Coordinator
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
TEL: 867-767-9107 ext. 40030