As Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated worldwide from 1st to 7th of August, Development Communications (DevComs) Network has called on all stakeholders to create awareness on its benefits to the child, mother, father and community, for sustainable National Development.
A statement by the Program Director of DevComs, Akin Jimoh, made available to journalists say it is by so doing a significant increase in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding would be realised.
It also calls for the provision of conducive environment and support, to include a child-friendly work environment, with a dedicated nursing room for nursing mothers, as it will make breastfeeding convenient and enjoyable.
Available statistics from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) indicates that child mortality accounts for 52% of all under-five deaths across the country.
The NDHS 2018 states that child mortality rate stands at 69 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to 12 months of age, while the overall under-five mortality rate is 132 deaths per 1,000 live births.
“Fifty-one percent of all deaths among children under the age of five in Nigeria take place within their first year, with 30% occurring during the first month of life”.
This according to the NDHS is due to poor infant feeding practices, which negatively affects the growth, health and development of children, and is a major cause of mortality in infants and young children.
The NDHS also states that only 29 percent of children are exclusively breastfed (EBF) from age zero to six months, leaving a deficit of 73 percent, being denied the right and by extension denied the right to survival.
The DeveComs Network’s Program Director, asserts that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy is paramount and has many advantages, hence the need for all stakeholders, especially government to make it a shared responsibility at all levels.
“The government, the workplace, communities, families and all key stakeholders must make efforts to ensure needed structures and systems are in place to protect and support breastfeeding. This will aid the prevention of childhood illness and promote healthy growth and development.” He says.
According to the statement, breast milk is essential and has lots of benefits both to the mother and baby, and supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions.
“Breastfed babies have healthier weights as they grow, they score higher on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests, breast milk protects against allergies, sickness, infections and obesity and is easily digested” – it says
Research has shown that Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes, certain cancers (such as breast cancer) and they may find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant as well as strengthens the bond with their children.
The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility”.