The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) is an internationally accredited program aiming to create a health care environment that supports breastfeeding as the norm. BFHI has been launched in 1991 by WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF. Since then, more than 20,000 hospitals have been designated 'Baby-Friendly', in more than 156 countries around the world.
BFHI has been promoted by the UAE Ministry of Health (Maternal and Child Health Central Administration) since 1993.
Since 2002, BFHI has been extended to community health centers. In the UAE, the first Baby-Friendly Health Center is Maternal & Child Health Center of Sharjah (2011).
To obtain the UNICEF 'Baby-Friendly' label, hospitals have to implement the 'Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding'; health centers should follow the 'Seven Point Plan' (UNICEF UK).
The Baby-Friendly accreditation is a staged process which includes registering with SBFC and then establishing a policy covering the 10 steps (or the 7 points) as well as forbidding any promotion of artificial feeding; then all health care staff needs to be trained in skills necessary to implement this policy.
Fully-accredited Health facilities will be officially awarded a "Baby-Friendly Health Facility" label (valid for 3 years).