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Low Rates Of Breastfeeding Cause Over 10m Avoidable Childhood Diseases In Nigeria- Study

Low Rates Of Breastfeeding Cause Over 10m Avoidable Childhood Diseases In Nigeria- Study

From Mathew Jwantu
Minna.

A study on the cost of not breastfeeding in Nigeria, conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health, ‘Alive and Thrive and UNICEF in recently, revealed that inadequate and low rates of breastfeeding cause over 10 million avoidable cases of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia.

The report also said this has leads to more than 100,000 child deaths – which translates into almost 18 billion naira in future economic losses for the country.

Breastfeeding benefits the country by helping lower health care costs, increase educational attainment and, ultimately, boost productivity.

Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist UNICEF Kaduna Field Office made the submission at the Launch of Niger State Zero Water Exclusive Breastfeeding Campaign held at Justice Legbo Kutigi Conference Hall, Minna Niger State.

Despite the compelling evidence that breastfeeding contributes substantially to improved child survival and development, Nigeria still has among the worlds highest child mortality rates and stunting prevalence as well as some of the lowest rates of many recommended infant and young child feeding (IYCF) indicators.

Ezeife addad that, it is evidence today that every 1,000 naira invested in supporting optimal breastfeeding can generate an estimated 35,000 naira in economic returns for Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Poverty Is Avoidable In Nigeria- Daman

There is no doubt that breastfeeding is essential to the attainment of the SDGs in Nigeria, and the Nigerian children hold the great future of this country. Our best legacy for a Nigeria of our dreams is to invest in interventions that promote, protect and act for the 3Es of breastfeeding:

Early Initiation of Breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth to make sure baby receives colostrum feeding.
Exclusive Breastfeeding for six months; no water or any fluids, formula or food till the baby reaches six months of age.
Extended Breastfeeding up to 2 years, with appropriate complementary

The rate of exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) according to her, has shown modest improvement over the last decade: from 17% in 2013 to 29% in 2018, according to NDHS 2018. For context, in 2018, only 42% of infants were breastfed within 1 hour of delivery.

while 49% were given other fluids in the first 3 days of life, and only 29% of children were exclusively breastfed in the first 6 months of their life. MICS 2017 also revealed that about 7 out of every 10 children between the ages of 0 and 6 months are not exclusively breastfed in Nigeria and Niger State stands at 6.2%.

She lamented that these children are denied the many uncontested benefits that come with exclusive breastfeeding

“The country still has among the worlds highest child mortality rates and stunting prevalence as well as some of the lowest rates of many recommended infant and young child feeding (IYCF) indicators. There are still high levels of stunting (37%) and wasting among children under 5 years of age (7%).

Maternal benefits of breastfeeding according to the UNICEF Kaduna field Officer, include decreased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Infants who are breastfed have a decreased risk of atopic dermatitis and gastroenteritis, and have a higher IQ later in life. Breastfeeding as we know plays an important role in managing the double burden of malnutrition. it provides food security and reduces inequality. It is the single most powerful means to fight against poverty and disease”. She stated.

World Breastfeeding Week which is celebrated every year from 1-7 August is a global initiative and the biggest annual moment worldwide for the breastfeeding movement. It was initiated to commemorate the 1990 Innocent Declaration on the protection, promotion and support to breastfeeding.

“It is a time to inspire, empower and educate people of all ages on how we all can protect, promote and support optimal breastfeeding practices
We have the knowledge, we know what works; what we need now is leadership – coordinated leadership at all levels across the warm chain actors and the society.

We acknowledge that leadership can be difficult, because it’s about challenges to budgeting, making choices, about deciding what to make a priority, but it can be done. We must resolve to make the 3Es of breastfeeding a priority in Niger State.

We congratulate the government and partners for this Launching, Press Conferenece, symposium a, Road shows and Advcacies to the traditional and religious Leaders mapped out to mark the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week. To ensure that these efforts are stepped up, UNICEF is calling upon governments, professional associations in the health and allied sector, employers, trade unions, civil society organisations and communities to step up and support breastfeeding”. She said.

She called on all relevant Stakeholders to work together to: Strengthen policy provisions that support maternity leave for 6 months in the public sector, and the provision of creches and breastfeeding-friendly workplaces in the private sector, including breastfeeding breaks and flexible working arrangements to encourage working mothers to breastfeed.

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