Stakeholders in the health sector have emphasized the need for mothers to practice Exclusive Breastfeeding in order to promote the mental and physical development of their children.
The Director of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Binyerem Ukaire, stated this at the 2021 World Breast-feeding Week celebration in Abuja.
According to her, there is need for mothers to ensure continued breastfeeding till 2 years or beyond with adequate complimentary feeding.
“The Exclusive Breast-feeding rate is 29%, while the target is 50%.The country is still below the benchmark. We still have a problematic situation, as far as Nigeria is concerned in terms of nutrition of children. We all need to join hands together to support Exclusive breast-feeding.
In the same vein, she called on religious leaders, market women, and different organizations to give the right support to mothers who are practicing exclusive breast- feeding.
“We should begin to encourage organizations to ensure that there is moral support for nursing mothers in terms of Exclusive breastfeeding.
Families and communities need to foster the development of good exclusive breastfeeding practice. Religious organizations should also give the right counsel to their members in terms of practicing exclusive breast- feeding.”
The Director further encouraged women to try and surmount all the challenges they may be facing in terms of practicing exclusive breast-feeding.
“Even though, there are so many challenges to initiating and maintaining exclusive breastfeeding, with strong determination and adequate support from the male folks, communities and appropriate authorities, the feat is achievable”.
Speaking further she said malnutrition is the underlying cause of more than 50% deaths of under 5 children in Nigeria and worldwide.
“Diet plays a critical role in the life of a growing child. Inadequate dietary intake will result in diseases. Breastfeeding is the panacea for the life of a child. When children have the right food in the first 1000 days they will live well. It will also have a positive outlook on their overall development in every area of life.”
The Executive Secretary of CS-SUNN Mrs Beatrice Eluaka, called on government to put in place the right policies to ensure that mothers get the right support to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six month of the child’s life.
She also encouraged states who are yet to practice 6 months maternity leave to do so without hesitating.
Speaking further she emphasized on the need for male involvement in order to improve the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria.
“Men need to support their wives while they are breast- feeding the children. Fathers need to ensure that their partners feed well, and they should be well appreciated during the period. They should be given adequate moral support both at home, in the community and in their place of work”.
The Representative of Market Women Association in Abuja, also called on Civil Society Organizations and federal government to carry out sensitization exercise in markets and public places to encourage more women who do not have access to the right information, to practice Exclusive breastfeeding.
Chairman CS-SUNN, Mr Ekene Ifedilichukwu, emphasized on the need for all Nigerian mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.
He said exclusive breast-feeding aids in preventing diseases, as the out of pocket expenses is much, and a large number of people cannot afford health care payment services.