Abuja, 5 August, 2021 - As the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) celebration kicks off, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has urged Nigerians to become advocates of exclusive breastfeeding and support mothers to practice optimal breastfeeding for the good of the great Nation.
The Minister, represented by Dr Salma Anas Kolo at the flag off ceremony in Abuja on 02 August, 2021 said that this year’s edition of WBW with the global theme Protect Breastfeeding: a Shared Responsibility, is an opportunity for, “all political leaders, policy makers, legislators, women, men, religious leaders, families, communities, workplaces, the private sector, individuals and indeed every Nigerian to take responsibility and join hands to raise awareness on the huge benefits of breastfeeding.”
The minister’s speech reiterated Nigeria’s commitment towards supporting exclusive breastfeeding in the country, noting that, “the Federal Ministry of Health remains committed to support, protect and promote breastfeeding as a veritable means towards eradication of childhood malnutrition in all its forms.
The Ministry seizes this opportunity to recommend once again, early initiation of breastfeeding within the first one hour of birth; exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding for up to two years of age or beyond while ensuring the implementing of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes as globally recommended.” Globally, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding for infants under six months of age is 40%. In Africa, nearly 70% of countries have high rates of continued breastfeeding at one year, compared to 28.7% in Nigeria.
World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every 01 to 07 of August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The history of this week-long commemoration dates to the 1990’s, when the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) created the Innocenti Declaration to promote and support breastfeeding.
Also, at the commemorative event, the WHO Country Representative Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who was represented by Dr Joy Ufere, Technical officer Child and Adolescent age mentioned that,
“This year’s World Breastfeeding Week is a time to revisit the commitments to prioritizing breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies.
Therefore, we urge government to increase funding to reach the 2025 World Health Assembly target of raising the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months to at least 50 percent.” Highlights of the event was the recognition and encouragement for more public and private organizations to promote exclusive breastfeeding. In this regards, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, the Nigeria Communications Commission, General Hospital Asokoro, Federal Ministry of Finance and Federal Capital Administration were duly acknowledged for establishing facilities that promote exclusive breastfeeding in their facilities.
Other partners present affirmed the right of every child to be breastfed and reiterated that fact that it. It is not just the responsibility of the mother but rather a shared responsibility. In separate speeches, partners called for extensive support of the zero-water campaign, and added that while tradition may argue that a child needs water, all the quantity needed is contained in the mother’s breast milk.
The flag off also provided the opportunity to launch the National Guidelines on baby friendly initiatives in Nigeria developed by Federal Government of Nigeria in collaboration with relevant Multi-stakeholders promoting child survival.
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