As the country celebrates World Breastfeeding Week, statistics show that only 17% of infants in the country enjoy exclusive breastfeeding.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute who disclosed this on Monday in Abuja at the commencement of the ceremony, noted that the 2013 Demographic and Health Survey shows that 98% of Nigerian children are breastfed at some time but only 17% of these infants are exclusively breastfed, making Nigeria the poorest country in Africa with breastfeeding rate.
He said, ‘’this is because women give their infants water along with breast milk. All the water the child needs is contained in the breast milk. There is no need to give the child water or any other liquid.’’
The theme of this year’s celebration ‘’Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s make it work’’ was a reminder that women should be supported to combine breastfeeding with work whether in formal, informal or home setting. She should be empowered to claim hers and her baby’s right to breastfeeding, Awute noted.
The Permanent Secretary who maintained that breastfeeding has many benefits to the child; mother and community said that Infant and Young Feeding, IYF, have been included in the National Strategic Plan Action for Nutrition in the country.
Director, Family Health of the ministry, Dr. Wapada Balami in his welcome address noted that it was expedient for all stakeholders to participate in ‘’supporting women of reproductive age in the optimal IYF practices would ensure developmental milestones of the first 1,000 days of young children and thereby prevent irreversible damage to full potential in the preschool age.’’
The WHO Head of Nutrition, who represented the Country representative, Dr. Andrew Mbewe said that WHO promotes breastfeeding according to guidelines.
Mbawe said, ‘’ our plea is to all who are employers or who are heads of departments to create space and time for workers who can breastfeed.
The wife of President Buhari, Aisha Buhari who was represented by Dr. Zainab Bagudu said that although Nigeria has healthy children and that government was keen to support breastfeeding, cultural practices that discard cholesterol in breast milk should be discouraged and mothers should breastfeed children to have a healthier nation.


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