Every first week of August has been set aside as a week to create awareness for the numerous benefits of breastfeeding our children.
The World Health Organisation and UNICEF recommend that mothers put their babies to the breast within the first half-hour after birth and breastfeed them exclusively and on demand for the first six months, without any other foods or liquids or even water. Breastfeeding can then be continued along with complementary food up to two years of age.
The Lagos State Government has revealed that as many as 72% of new mothers in Lagos state do not practice the 6-months exclusive breastfeeding, as recommended by WHO and UNICEF. Only 28% do.
This was revealed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga on Thursday at a news conference marking the 2016 Breastfeeding Week in Ikeja, Lagos.
Dr. Onanuga reiterated the importance of exclusive breastfeeding as part of the strategies for reducing mortality in children under 5 years of age by 20%.
“Furthermore, about 50–60% of under-five mortality cases are largely due to malnutrition, caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding. The national figure of 17% (NDHS 2013) as exclusive breastfeeding rate is very low.
“The Lagos State figure of 28% (MICS 2013) is still low and calls for the collective efforts of all stakeholders. Statistics had shown that only 22.6% of children were breastfed within one day of birth while 25.9% of children born in Lagos State were breastfed appropriately (2013 MICS 4).
“The practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life and the introduction of adequate complementary diet till the first two years of life are integral part to child survival and optimal growth. Our future is in our hands which can be guaranteed with the provision adequate diet to children for optimal brain growth,” he said.
Dr Onanuga advised that nursing mothers make good use of the extended maternity leave, because it was due to the benefits of breastfeeding that maternity leave was extended to 6 months, in addition to 2 weeks of paternity leave.
Speaking about this year’s World Breastfeeding Week’s theme- “A key to Sustainable Development,” the special adviser said it could not have come at a better time than now that the State was implementing measures to guarantee the survival of the children for an efficient future workforce.
“Collectively, we must ensure the survival of our children to guaranty our tomorrow. The efforts of this administration are geared towards the promotion maternal and child survival strategies. Exclusively breastfed children are known to develop immunity against childhood killer diseases and ultimately become healthy adults that will positively contribute to the work force required for sustainable development.
“To celebrate the 2016 World Breastfeeding Week in Lagos State, activities lined up include: creation of public awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding; Refresher training of heath care providers at all levels of care towards ensuring that effective health education on essentials of breastfeeding and early initiation of breast feeding are passed to all expectant and nursing mothers visiting the health facilities and establishment of infant and young child feeding support groups at LGA/LCDA levels.
“The fight against the occurrence of malnutrition in under-five children cannot be won without the collective efforts of all the stakeholders. The caregivers have lots of commitment to make towards the goal for eradicating malnutrition in children.
“It is therefore important to appeal to nursing mothers, care givers and the entire residents of the State to embrace the practice of exclusive breastfeeding and visit any of the public health facilities in the State during the breastfeeding week and thereafter for dietary advice and growth monitoring clinic for their children,” he stated.
Source: PM News