The Bauchi State branch of Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, says suboptimal breastfeeding practices remain a threat to the health and development of children under-five years, and that of nations. Hence, exclusive and first-hour breastfeeding remains sacrosanct for newborns.
Dabis Mwalike, the secretary of the pro-health group disclosed this during a press conference on Monday in Bauchi.
The press conference themed: ‘Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support’ was aimed at advocating further, the practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the state.
Also, the advocacy was in commemoration of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week which began on Monday.
According to Mwalike, breastfeeding improves survival, health, and cognitive development of the child and economic growth of a nation, as well as its potential to impede maternal deaths from cancer and type II diabetes among others.
Her words: “Although Breastfeeding is a common practice in Nigeria with 97% of children ever breastfed, (National Nutrition and Health Survey, 2018), the country is stated by Global Nutrition Report (2021) to have made some progress towards achieving the exclusive breastfeeding rates with 28.7% of infants aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed, which is lower than the 43.6% average of the region.
“Additionally, for other related indicators, like early initiation within the first hour of birth, only about 19% of children nationally were breastfed within the first hour of birth, this varies by region across the states. in the North-East 16.4% of children were breastfed within the first hour of birth, while in Bauchi state is 7.8% this is low compared to Gombe state with 10.1%.”
She further remarked that numerous factors are responsible for low exclusive breastfeeding rates globally including inadequate rates of exclusive breastfeeding resulting from social and cultural, health system and commercial factors as well as poor knowledge about breastfeeding.
While extolling the government for its support to the group, the group’s secretary furthr urged the governmentt and stakeholders to join hands and encourage the practise.
To allow women key into the practice, the group enjoined the government to approve a a six-month maternity leave for all lactating and nursing mothers.
Also, traditional birth attendants, midwives, religious and community leaders were encouraged to educate members of the society, especially nursing mothers on the need for exclusive breastfeeding.
Similarly, local/International donors and partners including, Oxfam, UNICEF, IHP, Advancing Nutrition, Nutrition International, Break through Action, Alive and Thrive) among others were enjoined to promote, protect and support breastfeeding practices.