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Parliament urged to establish breastfeeding regulations

Regulations for breastfeeding need to be established by parliament soon, the House health committee urged on Thursday, following complaints that women were having their pay docked for taking breaks to feed their children.

The committee learned that a law was passed in 2018; however, regulations for breastfeeding facilities in workplaces, both public and private, have not been established since then.

Speaking at the committee session, deputy head of the committee and Disy MP Savia Orphanidou said that due to the absence of regulations, some employers are taking advantage and withholding pay from women who leave to breastfeed.

Orphanidou expressed concern that some employers fail to recognize the importance of breastfeeding for children, making it difficult for women who choose to breastfeed. She noted that women are leaving their jobs to breastfeed, only to find their paychecks cut.

“We believe that this is a very important issue, which concerns the promotion and facilitation of breastfeeding for new mothers. Based on the recommendations of the World Health Organisation we see that Cyprus lags behind in this regard, so we think it is time for these regulations to come in.”

She stressed that the regulations should ensure the creation of clean, private areas where mothers feel comfortable breastfeeding. “We reiterate the many benefits of breastfeeding for the child,” she said.

Orphanidou mentioned that representatives from the health ministry assured MPs that the national breastfeeding strategy is near completion and set to be published.

“Unfortunately, we understand that the regulations are still at the public consultation stage and will take some time to reach parliament,” she said.

Orphanidou added: “We are appealing and as the Health Committee from all parties to come up with these regulations as soon as possible, which will address the practical and technical issues that arise.”

Additionally, she mentioned that the regulations will include provisions for establishing special breastfeeding areas in busy public places.

Akel MP Marina Nicolaou also emphasised the importance of implementing measures for breastfeeding, citing the child’s right to the best possible health. She noted that legislation has been in place since 2018, but regulations are pending. Nicolaou stated that Akel has been following up on the issue and received assurances from the former health minister in May 2023 that regulations were being finalised for submission to parliament.

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