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January 22, 2020
By Ananya Bhatnagar and Amiya Kumar Kushwaha
New Delhi, Sep 10 (IANS) To adopt the global practices, the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Delhi government is exploring the possibility of building breastfeeding and childcare rooms in the national capital. It is also looking at ways to amend the by-laws to open the way for such rooms.
The government has informed the Delhi High Court that it has drafted a policy for building baby feeding rooms and has sought comments and suggestions from the public. The draft policy has also been shared with landowning departments for their opinions.
The government is exploring the possibility of incorporating it in the future building plans and amendments to building by-laws to implement the policy.
Consultations have already held with organisations, like the Municipal Corporations of New Delhi, South Delhi, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Department of Women & Child, and the Urban Development Department.
The move to build baby-feeding rooms is aimed at creating the environment that supports, protects and enables the mother to nurse her child in a safe, comfortable and hygienic place.
“The purpose is to formulate guidelines for the public utility departments and others for setting up facilities for nursing mothers and her child,” the government said in an affidavit to the Delhi High Court in a case filed by a nine-month-old Avyaan through his mother Neha Rastogi and advocate Animesh Rastogi, seeking the court’s intervention for providing adequate facilities to lactating mothers and their children.
The government has suggested that an ideal nursing room should preferably be on the ground floor with nursing counters equipped with sink, mirror and disposal bin, no sharp edges and hard corners and facilities for changing soggy diapers and washrooms.
The room size should be adequate, depending upon the footfalls, and easily accessible to all, including persons with disabilities. A female attendant could be posted outside to block entry of unwanted people and an emergency alarm/bell button should be provided alongside the flight button for the mother to call someone in case of emergency.
It should be properly lit, ventilated and have child-friendly atmosphere. In case of non-availability of space for a separate room, the nursing area should be shielded with curtains or flex walls for privacy.
The state government will launch publicity and awareness campaigns to encourage breastfeeding in the public setups, keeping in mind the infant’s holistic development and strengthening of the mother-child bond.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, infants should exclusively be breastfed for the first six months, and even after the introduction of complementary food, the breastfeeding should be continued for two years and beyond.
Some key points of the policy:
To ensure biological and natural right of a mother to nature her child;
The nursing rooms should be set up at all bus terminals and depots, railway stations, major Metro stations, court premises, shopping complexes, government and private commercial buildings, cinema halls, departmental stores and malls; and
The location of childcare room would have signages and the site-plan for easy access.
(Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ananya Bhatnagar at email@example.com)