Independence

Nigeria’s First Lady Advocates Exclusive Breastfeeding For Infants

Timothy Choji, Abuja

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 Wife of the Nigerian President, Aisha Buhari, has pledged to support and promote breastfeeding among women through regular education and sensitization by emphasizing the health benefits.

She has therefore, urged fathers, family members and the entire society to always encourage the process.

Speaking in Abuja at an event organized by the State House Clinic to mark the 2022 World Breast Feeding Week, the Wife of the President, who was represented by Dr. Rukayyatu Gurin, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Women Affairs, Office of the First Lady, assured of her commitment towards ensuring that more families accept and adopt the six months exclusive breast feeding for babies.

The First Lady, who stressed the importance of sensitization among key stakeholders, said more effort should be channeled towards addressing the “myth, disinformation and misinformation on breastfeeding.’’

“I urge stakeholders to consolidate their roles as custodians of breastfeeding and engage relevant authorities towards making policies that protect and promote breastfeeding of babies as a practice.

“Breastfeeding provides babies with natural food that contains all nutritional values that babies require.

“Therefore, as a natural remedy that protects the baby from all kinds of diseases, let us all join our hands as parents to educate, encourage and support our dear mothers to breastfeed their babies sufficiently for a healthier Nigeria,” she said.

Baby Friendly

Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, represented by Alhaji Buka Mala, his Special Assistant, explained that State House Clinic was designated Baby-friendly since 1997, and the Breastfeeding Support Group was inaugurated in 1998.

Umar noted that the State House management was committed to the initiative by supporting staff through training, workshops and other educational activities by the Breastfeeding Support Group.

As a way of encouraging breastfeeding mothers to discharge their duties and still look after their babies, Umar said “the State House management has made a crèche available at the clinic for use by nursing mothers.’’

“Today’s event attests to our commitment to promoting and supporting breastfeeding as the best food for babies, and remains a mother’s best gift to herself, her baby and the world,” Umar said.

The Permanent Secretary expressed gratitude to the staff of the State House Clinic for always organizing the event, and implored them to continue to ensure that the message reaches all parts of the Federal Capital Territory and beyond.

Advantages

Guest Speaker at the event, Dr Adekunle Otuneye, said the theme for this year’s breastfeeding week is meant to strengthen the capacity of actors in breastfeeding.

He said breastfeeding is a key intervention in achieving zero hunger goal of the SDGs, by ensuring food security for babies and prevents malnutrition among infants.

Dr. Otuneye, who is also the Head of Paedratics at the National Hospital, Abuja, added that the objectives of 2022 include to positively engage individuals and organizations along the value chain for breastfeeding, by strengthening the capacity of actors for transformational change.

He revealed that three out of every five children born globally do not get breastfed within 30 minutes of birth.

“Forty-One percent of infants are breast fed globally in a year. For Nigeria, most mothers don’t breastfeed exclusively 4-6 months; rather, they resort to complimentary foods. Breast milk contains optimal balance of carbohydrate, fat, water and proteins needed for babies’ growth and survival.

“Children should be given breastmilk within 30 mins of birth because it is the first vaccine for an infant and breastfeeding brings about better intelligence coefficient and school performance in children,” he stated.

The two-day event, held at the State House Auditorium, was the culmination events planned by the State House Clinic in commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week under the theme: “Step Up Breastfeeding, Educate and Support.’’

Earlier in the week, members of the Breastfeeding Support Group of State House Clinic carried out sensitization awareness at the Utako Community in the nation’s capital, Abuja, where mothers within the locality were taught the basic techniques of breast feeding and encouraged to imbibe the culture of exclusive breastfeeding.

 

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