2021 Breastfeeding Week: “48% infants not exclusively breastfed in FCT” – Minister

By Hudu Yakubu, Abuja 

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The Minister of State, Nigerian Federal Capital Territory FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has revealed that about 48% of infants are not optimally exclusively breastfed in the FCT and this has created a margin which could, among others, be the poorest of the poor that requires extra efforts to reach.

The Minister who made this revelation at the commemoration of 2021 World Breastfeeding Week held in Garki, also described as worrisome that almost half of FCT babies are denied the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding.

Aliyu also revealed that from January to June 2021, FCT has registered and treated 1,728 cases of acute malnourished children under 5years, just as she noted that suboptimal breastfeeding precipitates malnutrition.

She however acknowledged that the administration was making steady progress towards improving infant and young child nutrition in the FCT, noting that the multi-indicators cluster survey report of 2017 shows that the FCT has 52% of infants 0 – 6 months old, exclusively breastfed which was the 2nd best breastfeeding rate in Nigeria.

Theme of event
The Minister said the theme of this year’s event Protect Breastfeeding: A shared Responsibility” , aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals campaign and it highlights the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish and also focuses on how breastfeeding contributes to the survival, health and wellbeing of all children.

It is gratifying to note that FCT has adopted/adapted and continue to implement all policies and guidelines. As a matter of fact, some FCT health institutions, particularly the Asokoro, and Maitama Districts Hospitals that where designated Baby Friendly are still running twice a week breastfeeding clinic on Wednesdays and Thursdays, while Gosa Sarki and Tude communities in Abuja Municipal, and Kuje Area Councils are designated zero water communities for excellent universal performance in exclusive breastfeeding,” she said.

Promotion of breastfeeding
Aliyu, said the FCT Administration has supported and would continue to promote the practice of breastfeeding especially putting babies to the breast within the first hour of birth and exclusively breastfeeding the baby for the first six months without water.

She added that breastfeeding plays a very important role in improving children’s health and is one of the best investments for saving infants’ lives and improving the health, social and economic development of individuals and nations.

Effect of cultural practises
Speaking in the same vein, Ag. Secretary FCT Health and Human Services Secretariat, Dr. Mohammed Kawu, identified cultural norms and traditional beliefs as some of the factors that could undermine the progress made so far in the territory.

Kawu, noted that though the ultimate responsibility for ensuring women and children’s rights to protection and survival lies with the government, but acknowledged that these rights cannot be fulfilled without the involvement of the members of households, communities, development partners and the private sector.

He therefore, solicits support for collective responsibility for maximum breastfeeding practices by women to ensure adequate protection, survival and development of the FCT women and children.

Highpoint of the event was goodwill messages delivered by the Chairman of Abuja Municipal Area Council, Hon. Abdullahi Adamu Candido, development partner and award to the healthiest babies. The first prize went to Chisimdi Ebubedike, second prize was awarded to Mohammed Gidado and Erica Arome got the third prize.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu

 

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