A report presented by Save the Children International (SCI) has revealed that early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life, alongside exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is essential to child survival, health, growth and development.
The report was presented on the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week by the Save the Children Initiative in collaboration with the Nigeria Government Forum earlier today in Abuja.
SCI in collaboration with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) called on the government at all levels, public health experts, CEOs, Managers, Captains of industries, workplaces and community gatekeepers to promote, protect, support and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers and their babies in the post-pandemic era.
“The Report states that health workers, professionals and their professional associations should be key advocates for breastfeeding and play an important role in influencing political support for breastfeeding in Nigeria.”
The Director-General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru said that ‘’our organization has been in support of the full boarding of health and medical facilities at workplaces and, as a proactive organization, we have a functional creche in our office where nursing mothers can keep their offspring and we recommend that all organizations should make provision for such to enhance baby/mother bonding without necessarily affecting their jobs adversely.’’
Mr Famari Barro, Country Director, Save the Children International, Nigeria also explained that “proper education of the mothers and their caregivers/support systems on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, can encourage them to practice it.
” All health workers, including health professionals and lay health workers, who come into contact with women, infants and families must be adequately trained to provide evidence-based breastfeeding support”.
He mentioned that the leadership of Save the Children International and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum are working together to support initiatives where health care workers and providers, community workers and volunteers are adequately trained to provide breastfeeding counselling, correctly advise caregivers on child nutrition and provide psycho-social support to pregnant women, women with infants and young children and adolescent girls, thus integrating Mental Health & Psychosocial support into all Mother Infant and Young Child Feeding (MIYCF) counselling.
“We are also focused on ensuring pregnant women and caregivers of children less than two years of age benefit from social protection measures to support appropriate, respectful and safe maternity services and recommended infant and young child feeding practices in Nigeria.” He said.