Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding

In Viet Nam, Alive & Thrive has worked with a variety of stakeholders to develop “Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding” — a designation conferred upon hospitals to signify that they are breastfeeding-friendly.

A hospital can be designated a Center of Excellence for Breastfeeding if it creates an environment that is breastfeeding-friendly; that is, hospitals that:

  • Promote skin‐to‐skin contact for newborns
  • Ensure that mothers can successfully initiate early breastfeeding
  • Enable mothers to exclusively breastfeed regardless of whether they delivered vaginally or via caesarean.

The Center of Excellence designation is a good reference when families are deciding where to deliver.

In Viet Nam, the Center of Excellence designation is made by the Ministry of Health (MOH), and provincial and district hospitals are accredited by provincial Departments of Health (DOH). Multiple groups are involved in the comprehensive evaluations of a hospital’s candidacy to be deemed a Center of Excellence, including independent assessors and women who recently delivered at the facility.

COE opening
A&T East Asia Pacific Regional Director Roger Mathisen with staff at Tran Van Thoi Center of Excellence designation ceremony.

After a hospital has been evaluated and meets the relevant criteria, it receives a standardized signboard with a recognizable logo for public display. The accreditation is also published in the media and on breastfeeding community social media platforms. The accreditation can be withdrawn if the hospital fails to meet the supportive supervision qualification and the performance is not sustained, which is reevaluated annually by the hospital and every five years by DOH/MOH, or patient satisfaction qualification, which is reevaluated quarterly by independent call centers.

Being designated as a Center of Excellence for Breastfeeding is a prerequisite for establishing a human milk bank. Human milk banks support and promote breastfeeding by providing safe screened pasteurized human milk for preterm, low birthweight, and sick infants who need breastmilk and whose mothers are unable to provide it or cannot provide enough.


Additional resources

Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding:

Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding Brief Overview (English & Vietnamese)

Map of Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding (English & Vietnamese)

Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding mother survey questionnaires and evaluation checklists (English & Vietnamese)


Human Milk Banks:

Components of human milk bank processes and services (English & Vietnamese)

Minimum Standards for the Establishment and Operation of Human Milk Banks in Southeast Asia (English)


SBCC materials for hospitals and mothers

Risks of BMS products, baby feeding cues, and newborns’ nine instinctive stages (English, Vietnamese, French, and Burmese)

Kangaroo Mother Care, Proper Latching, and Breastmilk Expression and Storage (English & Vietnamese)

The importance of breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and nutrition during the first 1,000 days of babies


Alive & Thrive’s work on Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding is supported by the Government of Ireland.