In an effort to promote breastfeeding among working mothers, the Ministries of Health and Labor are cooperating with Helen Keller International, with funding from GIZ-MUSEFO, to set up workplace lactation centers.
They are identifying factories, government institutions, banks and NGO/UN offices for pilot projects in Phnom Penh and Kandal, Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces.
More than 20,000 workers and 5,000 young people are expected to benefit from this project.
The initiative comes amid concerns about the nutritional needs of children as the majority of mothers are forgoing breastfeeding their infants in order to continue working for a living and using infant formula instead.
Experts have said that unlike breast milk, some infant dairy products are lacking in certain nutrients such as iron, which puts a child at risk of becoming anemic, rickety and slow in mental development.
Under the Cambodian Labor Law, Article 186 obliges companies employing at least 100 women to set up, within or near their establishments, a lactation room and a nursery. If an employer fails to do so; employees can place their children in a day care center of their choice at management’s expense.
A report Khmer time received exclusively from Helen Keller International shows that despite this law, only 30% of factories surveyed in 2018 had on-site lactation rooms. Even when provided, some of the lactation rooms were rarely used due to inadequate materials, equipment and support.
Helen Keller International deputy director Hon Kroeun said workplace nutrition and support programs for infants and young children offer a potentially low-cost solution by allowing employees to continue breastfeeding when they return. at work, as this is a main part of the healthy nutrition project.
“The project also provides a platform to reach women with other essential programs, such as education and awareness for the adoption of essential nutrition actions and essential hygiene actions to improve diet. and the health of young children and women,” he said.
“Such programs are a ‘win-win’ for employers and employees because low-cost changes such as dedicated pumping or pumping breaks and equipped expression rooms can increase employee productivity and reduce absenteeism and health insurance costs,” he added.
Kroeun noted that studies have shown that breastfeeding workers are more satisfied with their jobs and have better health outcomes for themselves and their families.
Director of the Health Ministry’s National Maternal and Child Health Center Kim Rattana said yesterday that the project is expected to address nutrition and breastfeeding issues.
“I work with the parties concerned and I discuss with the Ministry of Labor to create lactation rooms in the factories. The problem (of low breastfeeding tendency) is very concerning and we hope that this project will provide an effective solution,” she said.
She added that workplace lactation rooms allow mothers to give breast milk to their children while working for income.