By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Save the Children International (SCI), Nigeria, has called for the implementation of policies that promote, protect and support exclusive breastfeeding and optimal breastfeeding practices.
SCI in a statement issued yesterday by Kunle Olawoyin, Media and Communications Manager, noted that exclusive breastfeeding is key to improved child survival, development, and contributes to Nigeria’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The World Breastfeeding Week (1st-7th August 2021) aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both the health and welfare of babies, as well as a wider push for maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction and food security. The annual celebration of the World Breastfeeding Week aims at increasing awareness on the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding on infants, young children, mothers, families and the society at large.
“The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Protect Breastfeeding, A Shared Responsibility’ with the slogan for Nigeria, “Join Hands! Support Exclusive Breastfeeding”. This brings another opportunity for the collaboration of various stakeholders and interest group including fathers, religious/traditional rulers and private sector to contribute to improving Nigeria’s Exclusive Breastfeeding rates in the country.”
The statement said the occasion also brought the chance to support health care workers and providers, and community workers and volunteers to be trained adequately to provide breastfeeding counselling, correctly enlighten caregivers on child nutrition while delivering psychosocial support to pregnant women, women and adolescent mothers with infants and young children and adolescent girls, thus integrating mental health & psychosocial support into all Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) counselling.
“Economic benefits of breastfeeding to families and society at large cannot be overemphasized. Through our programmes, we will continue to support breastfeeding mothers and encourage their families to support them. We are advocating for governments at all levels to create enabling environments for lactating mothers by building crèches in workplaces and implementing policies that will support exclusive breastfeeding for six months” said Shannon Ward, Acting Country Director, Save the Children International Nigeria.
Dr Adaeze Oramalu-Ogwuche, Acting Head of Health and Nutrition, Save the Children International Nigeria said, “Breastfeeding week is one of the greatest outreach vehicles for the promotion of optimal infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices to other network of influencers (fathers, religious/traditional rulers, institutions and Private sector) as they contribute to the exclusive breastfeeding rate in Nigeria. It is very important to continue to highlight the importance of breastfeeding and our responsibility, encourage and promote exclusive breastfeeding and improve the health of babies and mothers across the world and in Nigeria’’.