This week’s CHEER Champion of the Week is Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health and Director of the Global Health Concentration and of the Office of Public Health Practice at the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Connecticut. Rafael is an outstanding advocate for breastfeeding, and has dedicated his career to advancing nutrition and breastfeeding practices around the world!
As a researcher, Rafael has focused on public health nutrition and food security, and his research has led to improvements in breastfeeding; iron deficiency anemia among infants (by delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord after birth); household food security measurement and outcomes; and maternal, infant and young child community nutrition education/counseling programs worldwide. He is a world authority on the evidence-base behind the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and community-based breastfeeding peer counseling models. His current global breastfeeding research focuses on the development of evidence-based models for the successful scaling-up of comprehensive breastfeeding programs at the national level.
Rafael is Past President of the International Society for Research in Human Milk and Lactation (ISRHML). He has published 200 research articles and over 350 conference abstracts, book chapters, and technical reports. He has been an advisor to maternal-child health and nutrition programs funded by numerous UN Agencies, USA Government Agencies, philanthropic foundations, The World Bank, and governments. He was awarded ISRHML’s Ehrlich-Koldovsky Early Career Investigator award in 1999; was a co-recipient of the 2012 Research and Surveillance Award from the Connecticut Breastfeeding Coalition; received the Journal of Human Lactation Patricia Martens Award for Excellence in Breastfeeding Research in 2015; and received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico in 2016. He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and his MS in Food Science and his PhD in Nutrition from the University of California at Davis.
Check out Rafael’s most recent work: The Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly (BBF) Toolbox, a guide for countries to assess their readiness to scale-up breastfeeding practices!
Kimberly “Kim” Moore-Salas, IBCLC, an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation, is a rising star in the field of human lactation and a dedicated advocate for Indigenous mothers, babies and families. She works as a full-time Lactation Consultant at Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS) in Phoenix, Arizona and in private practice at Arizona Breastfeeding Center. Kim works with tribal communities across the United States and advocates for them on a local and national stage in collaboration with a cohort of Indigenous midwives and lactation consultants.
Kim shares, “During my journey to obtain my [IBCLC] certification I realized my mentors were all non-Native, and they were all great mentors and supporters, especially Sue Murphy whom I miss dearly. What wasn't taught to me via my mentors was the history of Indigenous people, the importance of culture, and the integration of our cultural and traditional values in breastfeeding. I have seen how western colonialism has changed and continues to change the landscape for our Indigenous Mothers via the impact of historical trauma through industrialization, broken treaties, and forced/coerced assimilation policies. My primary heartfelt motive is to reinstitute our values in raising healthy babies and families. Many of our communities which have fallen to social ills need healing, and one of the best places to start is with the women of the community and the youth, in this case very early childhood development.”
Kim is a leading promoter of breastfeeding with a focus on Indigenous mothers and babies. She is an active participant in the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), a nonprofit coalition of more than 50 professional, educational and government organizations supporting breastfeeding across the United States. Her roles with them have included Tribal Trailblazer Scholarship recipient, through which she helped USBC increase their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; conference planning committee member; and currently Tribal Liaison, through which she provides feedback and recommendations to the committee regarding Indigenous breastfeeding. “This [summer] was the 7th conference and the 1st time [USBC] opened the conference with a Native American drum group acknowledging our Native women awardees for their work in Native communities,” Kim proudly shares. She was elected to be next year’s co-Chair for the conference planning committee.
Additionally, Kim serves as Vice President for Central Arizona Lactation Consultants Association; serves as co-Chair for the MIHS Lactation Committee; is becoming involved with the birth center lactation program at Changing Woman Initiative; participates with the Indigenous Birth Workers Network; collaborates with Mewinzha Ondaadiziike Wiigaming; and will be co-facilitating a workshop on “Building Community Support for Breastfeeding” at the First Things First Early Childhood Summit in Phoenix on August 29, 2017. All this in addition to Kim’s job at MIHS, a Level I hospital, Level 3B NICU with an average of 2,500 deliveries per year!
This week’s Hospital of the Week is William Beaumont Army Medical Center (WBAMC) in El Paso, Texas. WBAMC enrolled in the CHAMPS South program in May 2015. They are currently working their way towards Baby-Friendly Designation, and they produced a great video about their newborn service unit and their application of evidence-based practices. The hospital shared the video on their Facebook page on August 1st, 2017. It is a wonderful display of their achievements over the past couple of years!
In 2016 alone, WBAMC earned 3 awards/designations in regards to their breastfeeding practices. First, they became a Mother-Friendly Worksite, a designation for businesses that proactively support employees who choose to breastfeed their infants. Next, they won the prestigious 2016 IBCLC Care Award. The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® and the International Lactation Consultant Association® are the 2 organizations to present this award. To qualify, community health facilities or hospitals must staff a currently licensed International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and complete a documented, evidence-based project to support lactation within the past 2 years. And last, they earned the Texas Ten Steps Designation, a Texas-based program that provides resources and encourages the adoption of Baby-Friendly practices and designation.
Congratulations, WBAMC! We applaud your achievements and commitment to breastfeeding!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each week, we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the work they have done for CHEER (Center for Health Equity, Education, and Research)/CHAMPS (Communities and Hospitals Advancing Maternity Practices).