…as SCI, NGF seek friendly spaces for infant feeding
As Nigeria joins the world to mark the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), a new Save The Children report has shown that if breastfeeding were adopted at close to universal levels, in low- and middle-income countries, it could prevent 823,000 child deaths as well as save US$300 billion globally per year.
The report ‘Nutrition Critical: Why We Must Act Now To Tackle Child Malnutrition (2020)’ indicated that the highlighted gains from breastfeeding would be as a result of enhancing human capacity – increasing intelligence and boosting adult earning potential.
On the World Breastfeeding Week, marked from August 1 to 7, Save the Children International (SCI) and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) also called on government at all levels, public health experts, CEOs, managers, captains of industries, workplaces and community gatekeepers to promote, protect, support and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers and their babies in the post pandemic era.
World Breastfeeding Week 2022 focuses on strengthening the capacity of different relevant actors; health workers and other structures at community levels that must take positive actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. It enhances child growth and development, increases their performance at school, and improves immunity to withstand diseases and savings from household income.
The report further revealed that early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life, alongside exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and complementary feeding until the age of two, is essential to child survival, health, growth and development.
Both SCI and NGF believe that health workers, professionals and their professional associations should be key advocates for breastfeeding and should play an important role in influencing political support for breastfeeding in Nigeria.
The Director-General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru said, ‘’Our organisation has been in support of the full boarding of health and medical facilities at workplaces and in fact, as a proactive organisation, we have a functional creche in our office where nursing mothers can keep their offspring and we recommend that all organisations should make provision for such to enhance baby/mother bonding without necessarily affecting their jobs adversely.’’
On his part, the Country Director, SCI, Nigeria, Mr. Famari Barro said, “Proper education of the mothers and their caregivers/support systems on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, can encourage them to practice it. All health workers, including health professionals and lay health workers, who come into contact with women, infants and families must be adequately trained to provide evidence-based breastfeeding support.”
The leadership of SCl and the NGF are working together to support initiatives where health care workers and providers, community workers and volunteers are adequately trained to provide breastfeeding counselling, correctly advise caregivers on child nutrition and provide psycho-social support to pregnant women, women with infants and young children and adolescent girls, thus integrating Mental Health & Psychosocial support into all Mother Infant and Young Child Feeding (MIYCF) counselling.
We are also focused on ensuring pregnant women and caregivers of children less than two years of age benefit from social protection measures to support appropriate, respectful and safe maternity services and recommended infant and young child feeding practices in Nigeria.