By; KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
The need for first six months compulsory exclusive breastfeeding of children under the ages of two years by mothers including the introduction of adequate complementary food with continued breastfeeding and beyond to guide against various forms of malnutrition have been harped on.
The Delta State Commissioner for Health Dr. Mordi Ononye made the call in a statement which contained the various activities that marked the end of the 2018 World Breast Feeding Week celebration in Asaba.
The Commissioner said that exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6months of life and the introduction of adequate complementary food with continued breastfeeding up to two years and beyond is a major child survival strategy adopted globally to combat all forms of malnutrition.
The Commissioner who referred to the Year 2016 Multi Indicator Cluster Survey said that there is a high rate of stunted children under the age of five years with 43.6% classified as stunted, 10.8%, wasted, 31.5% underweight and only 23.7% are exclusively breast fed which is poor indices for Nigeria.
He stressed the need for the protection, promotion and support of breast feeding in its entire ramification failing which the poor indices that is being recorded will persist or even worsen in the near future.
However to address the poor indices, Dr. Ononye revealed that Delta State in collaboration with UNICEF, established breast feeding support groups in 11 Local Government Area of the State with over 800 women as members.
He added that government has also distributed information, education and communication (IEC) materials on breastfeeding to pregnant women and nursing mothers with children 0 to 24 months which is a critical irreversible window period of the first 1,000 days of babies.
Dr. Ononye reiterated government’s commitment at reducing infant morbidity and mortality through various child health care programme initiatives such as immunization, vitamin A supplement and free under-5 treatment.
Dr. Ononye who said that the theme of this year’s celebration is “breast feeding: foundation of life” revealed that there are several benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the mother, child and the nation at large which cannot be over emphasized as early initiation of breastfeeding within 30miniutes of birth saves over a million children world.
Activities carried out to mark the week included visitation and breastfeeding lectures at major public hospitals during antenatal visits; television and radio discussions; and baby show completion and award of prizes.