The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF) have urged nursing mothers not to give water to babies after delivery.
The UNICEF’s Chief of Field Officer in Akure, Mr. Tejinder Sadhu and nutrition specialist, Mrs. Ada Ezeogu gave the warning yesterday at a media forum in Ibadan.
They explained that breastfed children have greater chances of survival than the non-breastfed. According to them, a breastfed baby is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed, adding that an estimated 13 per cent of child deaths could be averted if 90 per cent of mothers practice EBF.
The two-day programme on “Breastfeeding and Global Feeding Collective” was held in collaboration with the Child Right Information Bureau (CRIB). The experts identified water as one of the greatest barriers to EBF, adding that Nigeria is still 25 per cent short of the 50 per cent breastfeeding target by 2025.
While the recommended rate is 90 per cent for every nation, the experts said Ondo State has the least percentage of EBF at eight per cent, while Ekiti State has the highest, with over 46 per cent and Osun State, 43 per cent.
Earlier, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), in collaboration with the Global Breastfeeding Collective listed Nigeria among the five largest emerging economies like Mexico, China, India and Indonesia that have failed on EBF.
They gave the report during the week at the opening of the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WABA), “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.” The report said about $21 billion economic losses and estimated 103, 742 child deaths are recorded every year in Nigeria, due to the non-compliance.
According to UNICEF’s Communication Officer, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor and specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF, would create opportunities in EBF media advocacy for children’s wellbeing and survival.
They said the project, funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK-DFID) “Will lead to aggressive reportage with focus on increasing government funding to increase the rate of breastfeeding in Nigeria.”
She said the organisations would promote policies on “media advocacy for leveraging resources for breastfeeding (financial and non-financial resources) on the duration of maternity leave and compulsory establishment of crèches in public and private sectors.”
The Head of CRIB, a subsidiary of the Federal Ministry of Information, Abuja, Mrs. Ibiba Bello, who was represented by the Assistant Director of CRIB, Mr. Olumide Osanyinpeju, also urged that nursing mothers to support the programme.