Lactation centers have only been set up in 30% of factories and these spaces lack the necessary supplies to support nursing mothers, according to the health ministry and organizations.
Article 186 of the Cambodian Labor Law requires a company employing 100 or more women to set up a lactation room in or near the establishment, as well as a nursery.
If the company is unable to organize the crèche and the lactation centre, the worker can send her child to any crèche at the expense of the employer.
The director of the National Center for Maternal and Child Health in the Ministry of Health, Kim Rattana, said yesterday that even though this law exists in the country, only 30% of factories provide lactation rooms for mothers to breastfeed at work.
“Although some companies have breastfeeding rooms, they are not often used due to inadequate facilities and equipment,” she said.
“The new studies revealed that factory workers are generally underweight, below norm and have iron deficiencies while their children are also malnourished, which affects their health and makes them look pale and weak,” she added.
Speaking at a staff training on workplace nutrition and infant and young child feeding, Rattana said the project also promotes the implementation of labor laws. The program is implemented by Helen Keller International Cambodia funded by GIZ-MUSEFO, the German Agency for International Cooperation.
She said the project provides the right solutions to enable employees to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.
“By implementing the project, it is seen as a win-win strategy for both employers and employees as it creates an appropriate environment for both parties, giving employees enough time to breastfeed in the workplace,” she said.
She added that providing enough time to squeeze breast milk in the lactation room with the proper equipment makes women feel satisfied and fresh at work, and mother and children are healthier, which increases the productivity and reduces staff absences as well as staff health insurance costs.
“The lack or absence of lactation supplies leads to inadequate nutrition for infants, young children and women. It encourages them to give up breastfeeding their children when they return to work,” she said.
MUSEFO representative Sanne Sigh said Cambodia is still experiencing nutrition problems among women of childbearing age and children over five.
“Malnutrition can have serious short- and long-term effects on children and later in life on cognitive development and health,” she said, adding that malnutrition costs the government $266 million. per year.
She said the cycle of malnutrition continues if it is not stopped. Malnutrition in all its forms can be prevented through a healthy, diverse and balanced diet in appropriate portions and physical activity throughout life.
Helen Keller International deputy director Hou Kroeun said yesterday that the workplace nutrition project will serve as a model for establishing best practices when women return to work.
- Keywords: Breastfeeding, Lactation Centers