A Bill passed by parliament in March 2016, which is aimed at promoting breastfeeding in the workplace has been sent back to the National Assembly.
The provision, which is part of a Health Bill that was proposed in 2015, among things compels employers to provide breastfeeding stations for nursing mothers in the workplace.
The Bill requires employers to set up the stations with all the necessary facilities, including electric outlets for breast pumps, refrigerators and appropriate cooling facilities within the office premises.
“All employers shall in the workplace establish lactation stations, which shall be adequately provided with necessary equipment and facilities….,” reads the new clause in the Bill, which also compels employers to allow nursing mothers break intervals in addition to the regular times off for meals to breastfeed or express milk during working hours.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends for exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a newborn’s life. After the introduction of foods at six months of age, recommendations include continued breastfeeding until at least one to two years of age.
Increased breastfeeding has been reported to prevent deaths of an estimated 820,000 children under the age of five globally every year.
Kenyan labour laws provide for a three-month maternity leave, which makes it difficult for working mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and therefore the Bill is definitely a step in the direction.