Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has called on relevant stakeholders to collaborate with the Federal Government to implement the baby-friendly initiative guidelines at the workplace by providing paid extended maternity and paternity leave.
Senior Programme Officer, Africa, BMGF, Dr. Victor Ajieroh, made the call on Thursday in Lagos, in commemoration of the World Breastfeeding Week 2022, with the theme: “Step Up for Breastfeeding -Educate and Support’’.
He said that it was a great pleasure for the BMGF to be part of the dissemination of the “Toolkit on Workplace Breastfeeding Support Programme” in the country.
He said that the foundation appreciated the coming together of key actors in the private sector to advance proven family-friendly policies that benefit organisations and their employees.
“For societies and economies to thrive, countries and businesses need to support their workers through family-friendly policies, as they get married, raise children and cater for them unto early adulthood.
“Mutual investment by families, businesses and government in this critical phase of the early years of life lays the foundation for children’s success in school.
“Adults’ success at work, the ability of children and families to exit poverty, the attainment of lifelong health as well as enabling organisations to retain prized workers and invest in the future workforce,” he said.
Ajieroh said that supporting mothers to breastfeed and care for their young ones while at work in ways that ensure the adoption of optimal breastfeeding practices would contribute to preventing malnutrition and all its negative consequences in society.
He said that family-friendly policies were not just about extending maternity leave, but an acknowledgment of the shared roles and responsibilities we all have in ensuring the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.
He said that in 2021, the foundation worked closely with its flagship project, Alive&Thrive, Nigeria and also launched the revised baby-friendly Initiative guidelines which for the first time, now include a workplace component.
“This represents a significant opportunity for advancing optimal breastfeeding behaviours in times like this,” he said.
He, therefore, called on all Nigerians to ramp up collective commitment to accelerate the progress.