BY DOYIN OJOSIPE, Abuja
Nursing mothers in Nigeria have been urged to exclusively breastfeed their infants to keep them from being infected with diseases such as Pneumonia and Diarrhea which are the two leading causes of deaths of children under five.
Experts have also noted that “delaying breastfeeding by 2-23 hours after birth increases the risk of dying in the first 28 days of a baby’s life by 40 per cent.”
Presenting a fact sheet during the just concluded 2017 World Breastfeeding Week in Abuja, the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) country director, Doune Porter who was represented by Mr Simeon Nanama said it is regrettable that Nigeria loses at least 5.4 million under five every year being one of the top contributors to maternal mortality in the world.
Stressing the need for breastfeeding, he said the inaction of some mothers has led to chronic child malnutrition in the country.
Malnutrition is noted to affect the child’s cognitive development causing a low Intelligent Quotient (IQ) and poor health, which costs the country a whooping $21 billion every year.
Namana said, “Breast feeding benefits not only individual children and families but also the entire economy. The World Bank’s new investment framework for nutrition notes that every dollar invested in promoting breastfeeding can generate a return of $35 in economic benefits.”
The minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, represented by Director, Family Health, Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi said breastfeeding not only provide nourishment for the baby but brings about bonding between the mother and a baby.
She further revealed that the federal government has commenced extension of maternity leave from four months to six months.