By Justina Auta
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the Federal Government is targeting an increase of 50 per cent in the rate of exclusive breastfeeding before the 2025 World Health Assembly.
He disclosed this during the ministerial launch of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) in Abuja on Monday.
He was represented by Mr Joseph Ekumankama, the Minister of State for Health, where he reiterated the ministrys commitment toward cost-effective means to eradicate malnutrition.
He said our aim is to achieve the 2025 World Health Assembly target of raising the rate of exclusive breastfeeding to at least 50 per cent.
We recommend early initiation of breastfeeding within one hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, continued breastfeeding up to two years of age or beyond, introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary foods from six months.
The minister, therefore, reiterated governments commitmentto training of health professionals with information to cascade to mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding.
He added that health professionals play critical roles in supporting women to breastfeed, and to do this effectively, they need appropriate knowledge such as knowledge of the health outcomes associated with different methods of infant feeding.
They also need knowledge on the physiological process of lactation, as well as positive, non-judgmental attitude and effective communication and practical support skills.
Sen. Ibrahim Oloreigbe, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, said there was need to provide an enabling environment in work places both in formal and informal sectors to promote breastfeeding.
Oloriegbe, while advocating for the passage of law and implementation of six months maternity leave for mothers, said we need to double our work, I wouldnt know why it is delayed, we need to see it done.
It is one thing to have a law and it is another thing to implement it.
And unless we have enforcement and supportive system mechanism, we will not be able to have exclusive breastfeeding at the level we want it.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, said the 2022 theme of the WBW Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support is aimed at educating the public on necessary knowledge, attitude and skills to support breastfeeding women.
Tallen, who was represented by Mrs Christine Oliko, Deputy Director, Women Development, called for the need to strengthen, protect,
promote and support breastfeeding for the survival, health, growth and development of the child.
Similarly, Dr Victor Ogbodo, the Programme Director, Nigeria Alive