This September, be a star of the Milky Way!
Zagreb, 18 April 2019 – Sponsored by the City of Zagreb, the third UNICEF Milky Way humanitarian run will be held on Sunday 8 September 2019. The aim of the run is to raise funds for staff training and equipping maternity wards throughout Croatia to provide the best start in life for babies and mothers, and the entire family. In the morning, a children’s run will be held at King Tomislav Square, followed by many educational and fun activities for the entire family, while the 5 km and 10 km runs starting from Kvaternik Square are scheduled for the afternoon.
“I gave birth to all three of my girls in different maternity wards in Zagreb, so I can speak from personal experience and confirm that, despite numerous efforts and initiatives, there is still a lot to be done to raise standards, to additionally invest in high-quality healthcare and to improve conditions not only for babies and moms, but also dads. Thus, I am extremely happy that this year’s run focuses on maternity wards and that I can support the run not only by participating myself, but also by inviting all runners and running enthusiasts to take part and help achieve this noble goal. See you at the Milky Way run in September”, said Nevena Rendeli Vejzović, TV editor and presenter.
“Apart from providing support during pregnancy, it is crucial that we help make delivery itself a nice and pleasant experience that will empower the mothers. I am pleased that we will invest more into improving mother and baby care in all maternity wards in Croatia so that we can provide a warm welcome for each girl and boy, and give mothers and fathers a good start to parenthood. Little stars are counting on you, so I invite everyone to join the run as runners, volunteers and supporters. See you on 8 September on the Milky Way run”, said UNICEF ambassador Mirna Medaković Stepinac.
With the support of partners, experts in maternity wards and donors, UNICEF is continuously working to create the best conditions for a good start in life that begins in a maternity ward, so in 1993, the “Baby Friendly Hospitals” programme was initiated. Since 2017, all public maternity wards, 31 of them, gradually met the requirements to hold the title of Baby-Friendly Hospital, and UNICEF focused on maintaining these standards in partnership with the Ministry of Health. Since 2014, UNICEF has also been supporting the “Mother-Friendly Hospitals” pilot programme, and in September 2019, the official opening of the Human Milk Bank is expected, which marks a turning point in creating better conditions for prematurely born girls and boys.
According to the most recent data by the Bureau of Statistics, 36,973 children were born in 2018 in the Republic of Croatia, and, as stated by the Croatian Institute of Public Health, the number of children delivered by caesarean section is constantly rising. In 2017, 24.85 per cent of children were delivered by caesarean section, but this increase was not followed by the procurement of equipment that suits the needs of mothers who have undergone surgery. It is unknown how many women with disabilities give birth each year, but, as reported by the Register of Persons with Disabilities, there are a total of 67,233 women with disabilities in Croatia. Research conducted by the RODA – Parents in Action association and an analysis by the Croatian Institute of Public Health have shown that maternity wards are not appropriately equipped to fully support mothers with disabilities.
Therefore, the aim of the third Milky Way humanitarian run is to raise funds to improve mother and baby care in all maternity wards in Croatia. Registration fees and other funds collected will be used for staff training and for the procurement of equipment to aid delivery (stools, wireless CTG, a TENS machine for relieving pain, etc.), for acquiring delivery tables that can be adjusted to mothers with disabilities, for the training of health-care workers, for the acquisition of baby cots that are adapted to women who have had a C-section, and other necessary equipment which has been recognised as a priority.
The upcoming Milky Way run is held in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child which emphasises the obligations of adults towards the child, and also the obligations of numerous social stakeholders concerning child protection. It is therefore important to underline the crucial role of the whole of society, so this year’s run will again bring together both adults and children, recreational and professional runners, decision-makers, the corporate sector and celebrities, and their participation will contribute to improving conditions in maternity wards across Croatia.
More information on the run and the special early bird registration fee available until 17 June can be found on the following links: www.mlijecnastaza.hr and the official Facebook event.