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Prioritise exclusive breastfeeding, Lagos urges mothers

by James Davies

Oluwatobiloba Jaiyeola

The Lagos State Ministry of Health has urged nursing mothers to make exclusive breastfeeding a priority to reduce the child mortality rate.

According to the state government, 60 per cent of under-five deaths occur as a result of malnutrition caused by poor breastfeeding practices.

The ministry stated this on Wednesday at a press briefing to outline planned activities of the State Government to commemorate the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week.

Speaking at the press briefing, the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, stressed the importance of breastfeeding, noting that it is vital because it prevents babies from hunger and malnutrition.

He added that babies are expected to be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, stressing that neglecting this puts them at risk of complications.

Ogboye said, “Breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies. It is readily available, pure, safe and in the right mixture, and adequate for babies.

“Exclusive Breastfeeding is known to protect babies from severe complications arising from gastro-enteritis, pneumonia, and other childhood killer diseases.

“The importance of breastfeeding as a child survival strategy, especially in the first six months of life is known to be the catalyst for improving maternal and child health indices. Breast milk adds no economic burden on household income because it is freely given by nature.

“Though Lagos State fares better in breastfeeding data, such as exclusive breastfeeding rate which is 51.8 per cent (NDHS 2018) compared to the National figure of 29 per cent (NDHS 2018). 

“However, there is still a lot of work to be done by all of us to get to the National target of 65 per cent by the year 2022,” the permanent secretary said.

Ogboye further stated that the state government’s reaffirmation of the provision and sustenance of a breastfeeding-friendly environment was in line with the theme for the year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week, “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.”

He said the theme was specifically chosen to explain the state’s focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of Society.

The Permanent Secretary said, “Lagos State Government has once again restated its commitment to the provision and sustenance of a breastfeeding-friendly environment.

“The main action plan is to inform people about their role in strengthening the warm chain of support for breastfeeding; to anchor breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security, and reduction of inequalities; to engage with individuals and organisations along the warm chain of breastfeeding support and to galvanize actions on strengthening the capacity of actors and systems for transformational change.”

Ogboye called for the cooperation of all citizens, saying that the fight against malnutrition is a collective responsibility and not a one-man job.

“All hands must be on deck to ensure that all nursing mothers are supported to give the meal which nature has provided at no cost, pure, safe, and in the right mixture adequate for babies.

“The fight against malnutrition in children can only be won through collective efforts of all citizens, all residents need to ensure that all children are exclusively breastfed for the 1st six months of life, and thereafter followed by adequate complementary feeding with continued Breast Feeding for up to two years of age,” he advised.

“I, therefore, direct this appeal to all our Executive Chairmen for LGAs/LCDAs, Community and Religious leaders, Market Women Associations, Professional Bodies, Parents, Elite Groups, and Community Based Organisations to actively support our nursing mothers in the community to effectively breastfeed their babies,” Ogboye stressed.

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