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UNICEF urges Nigeria to maximise exclusive breastfeeding

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5 Aug 2021 9:52 AM GMT
UNICEF urges Nigeria to maximise exclusive breastfeeding
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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Thursday said out of seven million children born every year in Nigeria, only four million are breastfed in the first hour of birth.This, UNICEF said, fell below the 50 percentage target of global standard for exclusive breastfeeding.The UNICEF Representative, Ms. Chizoba Steve-Edemba, disclosed this in Abuja at the occassion […]

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Thursday said out of seven million children born every year in Nigeria, only four million are breastfed in the first hour of birth.
This, UNICEF said, fell below the 50 percentage target of global standard for exclusive breastfeeding.
The UNICEF Representative, Ms. Chizoba Steve-Edemba, disclosed this in Abuja at the occassion to host first babies of the year from 2012 to 2021.
The programme was organised by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs as part of activities to mark the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week.


“Sadly, despite these super benefits, four million of the seven million children born every year in Nigeria are not breastfed in the first hour of birth.
“While we have seen the rate of children exclusively breastfed for six month increase from 17 to 29 per cent, we are still significantly below the 50 per cent target set by the World Health Assembly for 2025 as well as the SDGs in 2030.
“In the FCT, approximately one out of every two infants is not exclusively breastfed from birth up till six months of age,” she said.
Steve-Edemba described breast milk as the first vaccine that completes brain development and a smart investments in child development.
She, however, said that limited family planning policies in the country remained a major barrier to optimal exclusive breastfeeding.


She, therefore, stressed the need to invest in interventions that protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
She mentioned such interventions as six months paid maternity leave nationwide, scaling-up exclusive breastfeeding campaign on zero water and building capacity of health workers to support breastfeeding mothers.
Also, Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs, said the theme of the week, “Support Breastfeeding: A shared Responsibility” was to reminds stakeholders to redouble their efforts in promoting exclusive breastfeeding.
Tallen said that in spite of the benefits of breastfeeding for the first six months of life, the practice was still low in Nigeria due to some myth associated with it.
“It is sad to note that despite the benefits of breastfeeding for the first six months of life, the practice remains low in Nigeria.


“I am aware that the myths about breast feeding still persist in some communities where the colostrum, the first milk produced by the mother, is considered unclean, hence expressed and thrown away.
“Some families mistakenly believe that additional water for infants is necessary for life, quenches thirst, relives pain, prevents cold, and or soothes the infant.
“These practices are inimical to the health and total well-being of the child,” she said.
The minister, therefore, called on employers to set up Day Care Centres in work environments to support working mothers engage in exclusive breastfeeding and for optimal service delivery.


Ms Ulla Mueller, the Country Representation, United Nations Population Fund, stressed the need to fundamentally address the high rate of maternal mortality in the country to ensure that mothers were alive to breastfeed their babies.
Speaking on behalf of the parents, Mrs Kikelomo Badejo, stressed the importance of breastfeeding for both mother and the development of the child, as well as to reduce risks of diseases and infections.
Supreme reports that other highlight of the event was the distribution of gift items to the first babies of year between 2012 and 2021 and their parents.
Gift items such as educational materials, play toys, food items, among others were given to the children.

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