By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) in collaboration with Alive and Thrive (A&T) on Tuesday solicited the support of Trade Union Congress (TUC) to push for the extension of maternity leave to six months in Kaduna State.
CS-SUNN Coordinator in the state, Mr Silas Ideva, made the call during a visit to the TUC secretariat in Kaduna.
Ideva said that the move was necessary to support nursing mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children.
He said that Nigeria currently occupies the second position in the area of child mortality in the world, adding that 50 per cent of infant mortality in the state was associated with poor nutrition.
He said that the partnership with TUC was crucial to ensuring that the State House of Assembly enacts a law extending maternity leave for working class nursing mothers from the current three months to six months.
According to him, the law will provide working class mothers the needed opportunity to practice exclusive breastfeeding required for optimal development of the child to adulthood, if enacted.
“The push followed the 2017 Abuja Declaration where stakeholders, national and state assemblies promised to enact the law, and as civil society organisations, we have a duty to ensure that it come to fruition.
“We believe that TUC can play a major role in supporting the process to ensure that nursing mothers in public and private offices are given the necessary support to exclusively breastfeed their children,” Ideva said.
Also speaking, A&T Team Leader in the state, Mr Christopher Musa, described breastfeeding as one of the best steps in saving lives, improve health and development of children to promote economic development.
According to him, every N315 invested in breastfeeding could generate as much as N11,000 economic returns, adding that improving breastfeeding can also help Nigeria reach its full human and economic potentials.
“Breastfeeding can prevent 10 million cases of childhood diarrhoea, pneumonia and other preventable diseases among children.
“It can help save the lives of 103,742 children annually and reduce the cost of healthcare services by 22 million U.S. dollars every year.
“Not only that, adequate breastfeeding practice can save families of 38 million U.S. dollars spent on formula and generates 21 billion U.S. dollars by increasing cognitive capacity of children and prevent premature deaths,” Musa said.
In the light of this, Musa stressed the need for investing in policies and programmes that support mothers to breastfeed, save lives and ensure high returns on investment.
“We, therefore, seek your support in pushing for the implementation of the Abuja Parliamentary Declaration to enact a law in support of six months maternity leave and workplace intervention.
“We humbly urge you to join us in calling on the Kaduna State House of Assembly to make the declaration a reality in the state,’’ Musa said.
Responding, the state TUC Chairman, Mr Shehu Mohammed, noted that a well developed child was an asset to the society and pledged full support of the union to ensuring that the law came to fruition.
Represented by the union Secretary, Suleiman Adeterigbade, the chairman said that TUC’s interest was the welfare of workers and ready to support anything that would motivate and protect the rights of workers.