Stakeholders in the health sector, have stressed the need for six months exclusive breastfeeding to improve the health of babies and the mothers.
The stakeholders elaborated on the health benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during the commemoration of 2019 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW)
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Empower Parents, Enable Breastfeeding”, chosen to focus on empowerment of both parents to value the goals of breastfeeding.
Inaugurated in 1991, the day is being celebrated in more than 120 countries across the globe to raise awareness on breastfeeding and bring to the fore, the challenges faced by nursing mothers while breastfeeding.
Dr Victor Ajiero of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said exclusive breastfeeding would ensure that children lived healthy lives.
Ajiero said that the Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration of 2016 required employers of labour in public and private sector to provide opportunities
for nursing mothers to breastfeed their children exclusively for six months.
He recommended a six-month fully paid maternity leave for nursing mothers to enable them to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
“Every investment in breastfeeding will be worthwhile.
It remains one of the key actions that can help us achieve human capital development objective.
Supporting exclusive breastfeeding is key to improving health and supporting the brain power that can help in educating
and developing productive workforce,” he said.
He called on government at all levels, and the private sector to make policies that would encourage exclusive breastfeeding for nursing mothers.
Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, the Director of Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, said “the 2019 WBW in Nigeria coincided with the launch
of the `Zero Water Campaign’ to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.”
She described breastfeeding as the most cost-effective way of feeding infants, noting that “as you are all aware, Nigeria joins the rest of the
world to celebrate the WBW from August 1 to August 7.
“The launch of the Zero Water Campaign for this year’s celebration is apt, considering the theme: “Empower Parents, Enable Exclusive Breastfeeding
for Better Future.”
According to her, breastfeeding is known to be the single, most cost-effective, high impact method of feeding infants.
“Breast milk provides adequate nutrients from the first day of birth up to two years,’’ she said.
She, however, said that exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria remained one of the lowest in the world, citing
2018 National Nutrition Health Survey which showed that
only one out of three children were exclusively breastfed.
She explained that the National Zero Water Campaign was developed to address the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the country.