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Lagos moves to sustain exclusive breastfeeding

  • Commemorates the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week
Dr Onanuga (Right) joined by Dr Model Osunkeyesi, permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health at the briefing today

The Lagos State government today appealed to residents including nursing mothers and care givers to embrace the practice of Exclusive Breastfeeding and visit any of the public health facilities as the state commemorates the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week

Addressing the media at Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja on the theme for the year tagged: “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” the special adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on  Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga noted that the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) started as an idea to commemorate the Innocenti Declaration in 1991 and has turned into an annual campaign coordinated and organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Actions (WABA) for the past 24 years.

He said the World Breastfeeding Week which is always celebrated annually in the first week of August in over 190 countries is to encourage breastfeeding towards improving the health of babies.

While emphasizing the importance of breastfeeding, He said: “The importance of breastfeeding as a child survival strategy especially in the first six months of life cannot be overemphasized.  As usual, Lagos State will be joining the rest of the Word to celebrate the annual Breastfeeding Week focused at promoting, protecting and supporting exclusive breastfeeding practices for children aged ears 0-6 months; and sustaining breastfeeding for up to two years of age in addition to adequate complementary feeding for optimal growth and development ultimately prevents under nutrition in under–five children.

“Infant breastfeeding is as ancient as the human race itself. Breast milk is the richest but yet nature’s race free source of nutrition; and colostrum is the child’s first inoculation against disease. Breastfeeding is the most enduring investment in the physical, cognitive and social development of a child. It is a major determinant of their survival. The overwhelming economic benefits of breastfeeding especially in the relation to the recommended six months “Exclusive Breastfeeding” (EBF) cannot be over emphasized especially at this period of global recession.

“Exclusive Breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are part of the key interventions for improving child survival, potentially saving about 20 percent of under – five children.  Furthermore, about 50-60% of under-five mortality is due to malnutrition which is largely caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding according to WHO Global Data on Child Growth and Malnutrition, 2006,” he said.

He continued: “Statistics have shown that the national and South/West exclusive breastfeeding rates are 25.2% and 39.8% respectively according to SMART Survey, 2014. Additionally, research has shown that only 79. 7% of children were breastfed within one day of birth according to the same SMART Survey, 2014. This implies that a lot still has to be done in the area of exclusive breastfeeding and this calls for the collective effort of all stakeholders inclusive of all us here today,” he said.

Pointing the effort of the state government in encouraging breastfeeding and ensuring the survival of all children from birth, he recounted: “The maternity leave policy for the first two children being implemented in the state allows every nursing mothers who is a public servant to practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

Speaking on the theme for year 2017 World Breastfeeding Celebration which is “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” with the slogan Sustainable Partnership and the Rule of Law, he said: “This theme couldn’t have come at a better time as studies have shown that a lot of mothers still depend on breast milk substitute as a source of major nutrient for their babies.

“As stakeholders, efforts should be geared towards correcting this unhealthy practice. Babies deserve to be brought to the world when they are wanted which will guarantee the provision of optimal nutrition for them from their mothers,” he advised.

Dr. Onanuga disclosed that the state has lined up some activities  for the 2017 World Breastfeeding week. These  include: Increased public awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complimentary feeding; Sensitization of healthcare providers at all levels of care, (public and private facilities) and traditional birth attendants on essentials of breastfeeding and early initiation of same as well.

According to him, the focus is to improve their knowledge on breastfeeding and ensure appropriate/effective enlightenment of all pregnant women, and nursing mothers visiting their facilities.

He therefore, charged all community and religious leaders, market women association, professional bodies, development partners, elites groups, community based organizations  to support child survival interventions that will bring a better tomorrow for all.

In her remark, while appreciating various associations at the briefing, Director, Family Health & Nutrition (LSMOH) Folashade Folashayo, Oludara advised all to encourage exclusive breastfeeding of children up to the age of two years with complementary feeding, introduction by age six months.

“As you can see the theme, “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together” is a collective responsibility. We start with our family members then to the community,” she said while appealing to the press to continue to give necessary information to the public including the private sectors too for everybody to embrace exclusive breastfeeding.

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