Citing its many health benefits, Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Primary Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Onanuga, has called on mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies in the first six months of life in order to improve their growth, development and survival.
Onanuga said exclusive breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding are part of the key interventions for improving child survival and has the potential of saving about 20% of under five children from morbidity and mortality.
According to him, the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is one of the Child Survival Strategies that has been proven by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and endorsed by Federal Government of Nigeria.
Onanuga revealed that part of the reasons why the Lagos State government extended maternity leave from three months to six and introduced two weeks paternity leave was to encourage exclusive breastfeeding following its enormous benefits in the general wellbeing of the child adding that every wise nursing mother is expected make effective use of this long holiday to exclusively breastfeed her baby.
Speaking during events to mark 2016 World Breastfeeding Week in the state, Onanuga, said the practice of exclusive breast feeding will ensure the provision of vital and adequate nutrients required for healthy and maximal growth and development of the child.
“Babies who are exclusively breastfed are protected from severe complications arising childhood killer diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia to mention a few. They also become healthy and productive adults.
“Our future is in our hands which can be guaranteed with the provision adequate diet to children for optimal brain growth .Collectively, we must ensure the survival of our children to guaranty our tomorrow”, he said.
On this year’s theme entitled; “Breastfeeding: A key to Sustainable Development”, the Special Adviser, said the theme couldn’t have come at a better time than this when the state is implementing interventions that will guarantee the survival of our children for an efficient future workforce.
Onanuga further stated that about 50 – 60% of under-five mortality cases are largely due to malnutrition, caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding.
He said the national figure of 17 per cent, according to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, as exclusive breastfeeding rate, is very low.
Stressing also that the Lagos State figure of 28 per cent is still low and calls for the collective efforts of all stakeholders.
According to him, statistics had shown that only 22.6 per cent of children were breastfed within one day of birth while 25.9 per cent of children born in Lagos State were breastfed appropriately.
According to the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), conflict in the north-east has further aggravated the nutrition situation