The Wife of Kaduna State Governor, Hajiya Ummi El-Rufa’i and chairperson, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP) has called on mothers to concentrate more on exclusive breastfeeding for their children.
Mrs El-Rufa’i gave the advice on Monday in Kaduna at a press briefing as part of activities to commemorate the 2019 World Breastfeeding Week.
She disclosed that exclusive breastfeeding has proven life-saving benefits for children, noting that insufficient breastfeeding can increase the risk of pneumonia and diarrhoea which are the biggest killer disease worldwide.
According to her, an estimated 823,000 child deaths would be prevented each year in low and middle-income countries if breastfeeding is adopted at close to universal levels.
“Also, by supporting mothers to practice recommended breastfeeding practice, nearly 50 per cent of under two child deaths caused by diarrhoea and pneumonia could be prevented.
”In Nigeria, improved breastfeeding practices could save 103, 742 children lives each year, she added.
The governor’s wife, however, expressed concern that in spite of its enormous benefits to the health and development of children, the practice of exclusive breastfeeding has remained low.
”Using a 24-hour recall system, exclusive breastfeeding feeding practice was able to make only a little progress among newborn.
”It was 15 per cent according to multiple indicator cluster survey (MIC) 2011 and 17 per cent according to National Demographic Health Survey 2013,” she said.
Mrs El-Rufa’i said that the last result of MICs indicates that malnutrition among children under the age of five has worsened nationwide with the highest concern in Northern states, including Kaduna.
She, therefore, called for more efforts to be put in place to support exclusive breastfeeding which can play a great role in addressing undernutrition among children and women of productive age.
According to her, Kaduna state government will sustain its commitment to maintaining and improving the health standards of residents, including the inculcation of an exclusive breastfeeding culture within families, communities and workplaces.
”We believe that the commitment towards establishing Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative is a symbol of the incumbent government’s political will to this noble cause,” she said.
The wife of the governor canvassed for the establishment of private spaces for exclusive breastfeeding in the state and nationwide, saying that the effort would reduce malnutrition to a great extent.
”KADENAP has put the request in place for the provision of creches and lactation rooms in MDAs in Kaduna state 2019 annual budget,” she said.
She noted that KADENAP in collaboration with the health ministry is working to get the government to extend maternity leave from three months to six months in the state.
Mrs El-rufai also called on stakeholders for continuous support to KADENAP in fighting malnutrition in the state