Is the Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) essential to the support of breastfeeding in Australia?

Marjorie ATCHAN, Deborah DAVIS, Maralyn Foureur

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstract


Aim: To examine factors influencing the implementation, uptake and development of the BFHI from 1992 to 2015.
Background: Australia’s health care policy includes ‘in principle’ support for the BFHI; an evidence based quality assurance program that has shown a positive effect on breastfeeding practices. To date, 74 Australian hospitals are currently BFHI accredited with reaccreditation outnumbering initial accreditations. The numbers of currently accredited facilities across states/territories varies. The degree of implementation by non-accredited hospitals is unknown. Australian studies reveal multi-level barriers hampering the widespread translation of breastfeeding knowledge into practice.
Methods: An instrumental case study with a purposive sampling strategy was used to select and analyse relevant national policy documents, government reports, organisational minutes and correspondence. Semi-structured interviews were also undertaken with a representative range of key stakeholders.
Findings: Opinions differed on the BFHI’s role, currency, capacity to create change and appropriate governance structure. Breastfeeding advocacy was highlighted as a priority with intangible enablers for the BFHI including an altruistic belief in the importance of support for breastfeeding and the essential role of the BFHI, and organisational pride associated with successful (re)accreditation.
Implications: The BFHI is widely regarded as essential. Lack of comprehensive policy support has hampered achievement of its full potential.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event“Essential Breastfeeding” : Lactation Consultants of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ) National Conference - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 7 Oct 20168 Oct 2016


Conference“Essential Breastfeeding”


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