The federal government said yesterday in Abuja that Nigeria has one of the poorest exclusive breastfeeding rates in Africa because many women give their infants water along with breast milk.
The permanent secretary of the federal ministry of health, Mr Linus Awute, who disclosed this during an event to flag off the 2015 World Breastfeeding Week in Abuja with the theme: “Breastfeeding and Work, Let’s Make it Work,” said exclusive breastfeeding meant that the infant receives only breast milk.
Awute, who was represented by the director of public health at the ministry, Dr Bridget Okoeguale, said, “All the water the child needs is contained in the breast milk. There is no need to give the child water or any other liquid.
“The private sector is called upon to encourage breast feeding mothers through the provision of space for infant care such as crèches and breastfeeding rooms in work places and by allowing flexible working hours for these nursing mothers.”
Awuted added that because of the importance of breastfeeding to the child’s development, infant feeding has been included as one of the six priorities in the National Strategic Plan Action for Nutrition in the health sector.
World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr Mbiwe Andrew, described breastfeeding as a natural intervention every adult experienced.
He said “All UN agencies always have a crèche and create space and time for mothers to breastfeed their children.”
Also, the Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr Paul Orhii who was represented at the event by a director in the agency said employers should make breastfeeding work at work place by providing crèches for nursing mothers.
Orhii said “Breastfeeding provides health benefits for mothers beyond emotional satisfaction and mothers who breastfeed recover from child birth more quickly.
The hormone oxytocin released during breastfeeding acts to return uterus to its regular size more quickly and reduce post-partum bleeding.”
Earlier, the wife of the President, who was represented by the wife of Kebbi State governor, Zainab Atiku Bagudu said the botton line is that breastfeeding is very important and that the government is keen to supporting initiatives that promote it.
She said “Important that we discard traditional practices that hinder women from breastfeeding properly. Some women take some traditional drinks that hinder the flow of colostrum in order to enhance the flow of breast milk.”