The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday in Minna said about 6.2 per cent of children were not exclusively breastfed by their mothers in Niger.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, made this known at the inauguration of the 2022 Niger state Zero Water Exclusive Breastfeeding Campaign.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the campaign was organised by the state Primary HealthCare Development Agency in collaboration with UNICEF in Minna.
The World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from Aug. 1 to 7, as a global initiative and the biggest annual moment worldwide for the breastfeeding movement.
According to Ezeife, inadequate and low rates of breastfeeding cause more than 10 million avoidable cases of childhood diarrhoea and pneumonia which lead to more than 100,000 deaths in Nigeria.
Ezeife said the Nigeria Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2017, also showed that about seven out of every 10 children between the ages of zero and six months were not exclusively breastfed in Nigeria.
She said that inadequate breastfeeding was responsible for more than 100,000 child deaths translating into almost 18 billion naira in future economic losses for the country.
She called on government and stakeholders to strengthen policy provisions that supported maternity leave for six months in the public sector to encourage breastfeeding among women and improve child’s survival and development.
Dr Amina Bello, Wife of the state Governor, said breastfeeding was important in managing the double burden of malnutrition and inequalities
“Breastfeeding provide nutritional bonding avenue between mother and child, therefore this campaign should be taken to every household for women to exclusively breastfeed within six months,” she said.
She urged the public to carry the message on importance of breastfeeding to every household, to create awareness and sensitisation to six months exclusive breastfeeding.
She also called for continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary food for up to two years and beyond.
Dr Ibrahim Dangana, Executive Director, Niger State Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA) said campaign on breastfeeding would be carried to 25 local government areas and 274 primary and secondary centres across the state.
Mrs Bolanle Oyebola, Project Director, Plan International Nigeria Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria, said they were implementing nutritional value among women to ensure children had access to cost effective nutrition. (NAN)