Perm Sec Explains How Lagos Govt Will Sustain Breast Feeding Friendly Environment

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By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos

Lagos State Government has expressed its commitment to the provision and sustenance of a breast feeding friendly environment by strengthening the capacity of actors to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of the society.

The actors include policy makers, healthcare providers, and community influencers.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye,  disclosed this on Wednesday at a Press briefing.

Ogboye outlined planned activities of the State Government to commemorate year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW). 

He said that the ultimate responsibility of government for this year’s breastfeeding week commemoration is to inform, educate and empower the actors to provide and sustain breast feeding-friendly environments.

 “The theme for Year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week: “Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support” has been carefully selected as it explains our focus on strengthening the capacity of actors that have to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of the Society,” the perm sec emphasized. 

He pointed out that those actors make up the warm chain of support for breastfeeding, and that they include: policy makers, healthcare providers, and Influencers in the communities.

The Permanent Secretary explained that WBW is designed to promote, protect and support Exclusive Breastfeeding Practices from first hour of birth up to six months of life; and sustains Breastfeeding for up to two years of age, in addition, to the inclusion of appropriate Complementary Feeding from six months of age for optimal growth and development.

Ogboye explained the main actions planned for the Breast Feeding Week Celebration are to Inform, Anchor, Engage and Galvanize support for breastfeeding practice which is key to achieving the sustainable development goals.

 “The main action plan is to inform people about their role in strengthening the warm chain of support for breastfeeding; to anchor breastfeeding as part of good nutrition, food security and reduction of inequalities; to engage with individuals and organizations along the warm chain of support for breastfeeding and to galvanize actions on strengthening capacity of actors and systems for transformational change,” he stated.

The Permanent Secretary added that State Government strategies for a breastfeeding-friendly environment include increasing public awareness on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and continued breastfeeding with complementary for and ensuring that breastfeeding information and counseling are easily accessible to caregivers at all healthcare service delivery points.

Others according him are strengthening supportive supervision towards ensuring the promotion of Exclusive Breastfeeding at all public Primary, Secondary, Tertiary and Private Health Facilities in Lagos State; building capacity of newly engaged Health Care Providers on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) at Public Health Facilities; and continuous capacity building of health workers on essential newborn care.

Speaking on the importance of breastfeeding, Ogboye stated that breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies stressing that Breast milk is readily available, pure, safe and in the right mixture and adequate for babies.

“The importance of Breastfeeding as a child survival strategy especially in the first six months of life is known to be the catalyst for improving maternal and child health indices. Breast milk adds no economic burden on household income because it is freely given by nature. It is important to reiterate that breastfeeding is the key to attaining sustainable development goals”, he said.

Ogboye averred that Exclusive Breastfeeding is known to protect babies from severe complications arising from gastro-enteritis, pneumonia and other childhood killer diseases, explaining that about 60% of under-five mortalities are largely due to malnutrition caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding.

“Though Lagos State fares better in breastfeeding data, such as Exclusive Breastfeeding Rate which is 51.8 per cent (NDHS 2018) compared to the National figure of 29 per cent (NDHS 2018). However, there is still a lot of work to be done by all of us to get to the National target of 65 per cent by Year 2025”, the Permanent Secretary stated.

He therefore called for a collective responsibility for the fight against malnutrition as all hands must be on deck to ensure that all nursing mothers are supported to give the meal which nature has provided at no cost, pure, safe and in the right mixture adequate for babies.

While noting that the fight against malnutrition in children can only be won through collective efforts of all citizens, Ogboye task residents to ensure that all children are exclusively breastfed for the 1st six months of life, and thereafter followed by adequate complementary feeding with continued Breast Feeding for up to two years of age.

“I therefore direct this appeal to all our Executive Chairmen for LGAs/LCDAs, Community and Religious leaders, Market Women Associations, Professional Bodies, Parents, Elite Groups, and Community Based Organizations to actively support our nursing mothers in the community to effectively breast feed their babies.

“The survival of our children is our collective responsibility, and so this is a clarion call to action. All hands must be on deck to ensure our nursing mothers are supported to give the meal nature has provided to our children”, he concluded.

Speaking in the same vein, the Director, Family Health and Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Folashade Oludara tasked nursing and breastfeeding mothers on the need to adopt proper positioning and attachment of the child when breast-feeding to allow for comfortability and prevent irritability.

“I want to encourage our nursing and breastfeeding mothers to always bring the baby to the breast and let them latch themselves. It is a common practice to lean the breast forward into the baby’s mouth, this is wrong and should be avoided, as this can lead to poor attachment. Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well”, she said.

Also present at the event were Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Mrs Abiola Liadi, who was represented by Director, Economic Planning Mrs Simisola Otuyalo; Chairperson of Lagos State Chapter of Nutrition society of Nigeria (NSN), Mrs. Cecilia Penny,; State Coordinator , Lagos State Chapter of Civil Society Scaling Nutrition in Nigeria, Honourable Adebayo Adeyelu amongst others.

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