The Lagos State Government has decried that 72 percent of Lagos mothers do not practice exclusive breastfeeding for their new babies in the first six months of given birth.
The government said only 28 percent of mothers in the state engaged in exclusive breastfeeding, appealing to mothers in the state to take it as a duty by breastfeeding their babies exclusively in the first six months of their delivery.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga disclosed this on Thursday at a news conference marking the 2016 Breastfeeding Week in Ikeja, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
Onanuga said exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding were part of the key interventions for improving child survival and had the potential of saving about 20% of under five children from morbidity and mortality.
“Furthermore, about 50–60% of under-five mortality cases are largely due to malnutrition, caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding. The national figure of 17% (NDHS 2013) as exclusive breastfeeding rate is very low.
“The Lagos State figure of 28% (MICS 2013) is still low and calls for the collective efforts of all stakeholders. Statistics had shown that only 22.6% of children were breastfed within one day of birth while 25.9% of children born in Lagos State were breastfed appropriately (2013 MICS 4).
“The practice of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life and the introduction of adequate complementary diet till the first two years of life are integral part to child survival and optimal growth. Our future is in our hands which can be guaranteed with the provision adequate diet to children for optimal brain growth,” he said.
The special adviser said it was for this reason that the state government institutionalised the extension of the maternity leave to six months and also introduced two weeks paternity leave, stressing that every wise nursing mothers were expected to make effective use of this long holiday to exclusively breastfeed their babies.
The theme of this year’s breastfeeding week is: “Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development.”
According to Onanuga, the theme could not have come at a better time than this when the State was implementing interventions that would guarantee the survival of the children for an efficient future workforce.
He said the objectives of the 2016 Breastfeeding Week included sensitising the public that the provision of adequate nutrition for children at all age groups was the first step towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); firmly anchoring breastfeeding as a key component of sustainable development; galvanising a variety of actions at all levels of breastfeeding in the new era of the SDGs and engaging and collaborating with a wider range of actors around the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.
“Collectively, we must ensure the survival of our children to guaranty our tomorrow. The efforts of this administration are geared towards the promotion maternal and child survival strategies. Exclusively breastfed children are known to develop immunity against childhood killer diseases and ultimately become healthy adults that will positively contribute to the work force required for sustainable development.
“To celebrate the 2016 World Breastfeeding Week in Lagos State, activities lined up include: creation of public awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding; Refresher training of heath care providers at all levels of care towards ensuring that effective health education on essentials of breastfeeding and early initiation of breast feeding are passed to all expectant and nursing mothers visiting the health facilities and establishment of infant and young child feeding support groups at LGA/LCDA levels.
“The fight against the occurrence of malnutrition in under-five children cannot be won without the collective efforts of all the stakeholders. The caregivers have lots of commitment to make towards the goal for eradicating malnutrition in children.
“It is therefore important to appeal to nursing mothers, care givers and the entire residents of the State to embrace the practice of exclusive breastfeeding and visit any of the public health facilities in the State during the breastfeeding week and thereafter for dietary advice and growth monitoring clinic for their children,” he stated.