– Advocates Exclusive Breastfeeding Practice
Lagos State Government has called on stakeholders including, healthcare providers, policymakers, and community influencers, to collaborate with the government towards protecting, promoting, and supporting the practice of exclusive breastfeeding across different levels of society.
The state also reiterated its commitment to the provision and sustenance of an exclusive breastfeeding-friendly environment by strengthening the capacity of stakeholders in following its good example across all strata of the state.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, made this plea on Thursday at a press briefing to intimate citizens of the state government activities in commemorating the Year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) celebration. He noted that the government’s ultimate responsibility for this year’s WBW celebration is to inform, educate and empower the actors to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments.
This is even as the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation recently disclosed that over 70 percent of infants in Nigeria are denied exclusive breastfeeding.
According to them, the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria is just 29 percent.
To bridge this gap, the Federal Ministry of Health has stated its plan to meet the global target of at least 50 percent exclusive breastfeeding rate by 2025 as recommended in the National Policy on Food and Nutrition.
Comparing the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the state to what obtains on the national scene, Ogboye said Lagos State fares better in breastfeeding data, with the exclusive breastfeeding rate which pegged at 51.8 percent (NDHS 2018) as against the national figure of 29 percent (NDHS 2018). “However, there is still a lot of work to be done by all of us to get to the national target of 65 percent by the Year 2025”, he stated.
According to him: “The theme for the Year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week is “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”; it has been carefully selected as it explains our focus on strengthening the capacity of Actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of the Society. These actors make up the warm chain of support for breastfeeding, and they include policymakers, healthcare providers, and Influencers in the communities”.
The permanent secretary explained that WBW is designed to promote, protect and support exclusive breastfeeding practices from the first hour of birth up to six months of life; and sustains breastfeeding for up to two years of age, in addition, to the inclusion of appropriate complementary feeding from six months of age for optimal growth and development.
He explained the main actions planned for the Breast Feeding Week celebration are to inform, anchor, engage and galvanize support for breastfeeding practice which is key to achieving sustainable development goals.
Speaking on the importance of breastfeeding, Ogboye stated that breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies stressing that breast milk is readily available, pure, safe, and in the right mixture and adequate for babies.
“The importance of breastfeeding as a child survival strategy, especially in the first six months of life is known to be the catalyst for improving maternal and child health indices. Breast milk adds no economic burden on household income because it is freely given by nature. It is important to reiterate that breastfeeding is the key to attaining sustainable development goals”, he said.
Ogboye averred that exclusive breastfeeding is known to protect babies from severe complications arising from gastro-enteritis, pneumonia, and other childhood killer diseases, explaining that about 60 percent of under-five mortalities are largely due to malnutrition caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding.
“Though Lagos State fares better in breastfeeding data, such as exclusive breastfeeding rate which is 51.8% (NDHS 2018) compared to the National figure of 29% (NDHS 2018). However, there is still a lot of work to be done by all of us to get to the National target of 65% by the Year 2025”, the Permanent Secretary stated.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Family Health and Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Folashade Oludara tasked nursing and breastfeeding mothers with the need to adopt proper positioning and attachment of the child when breastfeeding to allow for comfortability and prevent irritability.
“I want to encourage our nursing and breastfeeding mothers to always bring the baby to the breast and let them latch themselves. It is a common practice to lean the breast forward into the baby’s mouth; I’m afraid that’s not right and should be avoided, as this can lead to poor attachment. Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well”, She said.