Exclusive Breast feeding: 1.5m children suffering Malnutrition in Kano – UNICEF
Jack Acheme, Kano
The United Nations Children Education Fund, UNICEF has revealed that out of three million children under the age of five years in Kano, 1.5 million are stunted 108, 544 children are wasted, while 2.03 million are anaemic representing (66%) owing to lack of exclusive breast feeding in the first six (6) months of life by their mothers.
Nutrition Specialist of the UN agency, Kano field office, Niyi Oyedokun stated this In a media dialoque on Stronger with Breast feeding Only, organised by the UNICEF in conjunction with the Abubarka Rimi Television in Kano state north Western Nigeria, with the theme, “Step up for Breastfeeding–educate and support.”
He said, “Nigeria ranks second to India in the world, first in Africa and in Nigeria, Kano ranks first with malnourished children, stressing that the problem has been there for quite some time and we are not getting better, especially as we project towards 50 percent exclusive breast feeding by 2025.”
He said the trend could be reversed through adequate and appropriate breast feeding, especially in the first Six (6) months of their life, stressing that Nigeria stands a chance to reduce under-5 child mortality by 13 per cent if practiced Weil as mortality rate stands at 45 percent of every hundred births.
“The campaign here is on zero water or any other liquid or food, which can introduce micro-organism to them.
“Breast milk contains 88% water, 3.8% fat, 0.9% protein, 7.0% lactose and 0.2 others. Babies should be initiated to it in the first zero minute to 1 hour of birth. It is the first vaccine that protects them against many common childhood diseases.
“Breast milk should be on demand, day and night for the first six months of their Life and even up to two years as it even create bond between mother and child.
“The health of a child in the first 1,000 days of life, begining from conception is very important. The mother too needs adequate nutrition rich in ion,” he said.
He said research has shown that early initiation and continuous breast feeding for six months reduce diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, coronary infection in adult age.
Equipped with these knowledge, Oyedokun urged the media to become more than ever before involved in the aggressive campaign on Exclusive Breast Feeding in the first Six (6) months of life of a child for healthy living.
He said the media through various outlets should endeavour to educate and support the public, especially nursing mothers on the Art/Skills of breast feeding.
“The aim of the Media dialogue is to create awareness and ginger actions towards exclusive breast feeding.
“We want the media to become push agents by embarking on campaigns that will influence government and other stakeholders to increase funding, make favourable plans and implement polices towards exclusive Breast feeding.”
State governments should be influenced to implement the Six (6) months maternal leave approved by the Federal Government. Currently, only Kaduna and Lagos States have adopted the policy.
The Director General, Abubarkar Rimi Television, Hajia Sa’a Ibrahim in a remark at the event said Journalists were expected to get knowledge from experts and use them in productions to influence positive change in behaviour towards exclusive breast feeding in other to close existing gaps.
“After the dialogue, you are expected to give details about breast feeding, so that the listeners and readers can understand the relationship between stunted growth, malnutrition, retardation, low IQ and breast feeding among others,” she said.
The Deputy Director Kano State, SPHCMB, Murtala Inuwa said as the media comes to the fore front on the exclusive breast feeding sensitization, they should harp on no artificial food, as it cannot give 100 percent of what exclusive breast feeding can give, encourage targeted teaching during antenatal and the eight (8) group minimum dietary diversity campaign, stressing that if successful all a child needs in life is just maintenance without diseases.
The Communication Specialist for UNICEF Field Office, Kano, Mr. Samuel Kaalu, while speaking on how can the Media help urge journalists to engage in advocacy that promote social behavioural change towards adherence to exclusive breastfeeding, using various platforms involving experts and other stakeholders.