Over 43 per cent infants not exclusively breastfed in Benue – Society

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The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN)i, says 43 per cent of children in Benue did not enjoy exclusive breastfeeding.

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Dr Priscilla Utoo, the CS-SUNN Deputy Coordinator in Benue, stated during advocacy visits to the state’s ministries of Humanitarian and Disaster Management, and Agriculture and Food Security, in Makurdi.

Utoo, who was represented by Dr Gift Izenyi, a member of CS-SUNN, said the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for children could not be overemphasised.

“A 2021 study showed that Benue had the highest burden of malnutrition in Nigeria, followed by Cross River.”

According to her, it is imperative that children have good nutrition, starting with exclusive breastfeeding, in order to be mentally alert.

Meanwhile, Mr Dickson Odeh, the Benue Secretary of CS-SUNN, appealed to the government that paid maternity leave be extended from three to six months in the state.

Odeh also called for the establishment of nutrition departments in frontline ministries such as Agriculture, Health, Education, Women Affairs and Humanitarian and Disaster Management.

He further advocated for increase in budgetary allocation, as well as prompt release of funds to nutrition departments.

Also speaking, Commissioner for Humanitarian and Disaster Management, Mr Aondowase Kunde, pledged the ministry’s support to CS-SUNN.

Kunde urged organisations and other stakeholders, to come to the aid of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who were mostly hit by malnutrition because of inadequate feeding.

The commissioner noted that, “The IDPs were solely depended on support from the government, adding that extra helping hands would go a long way in addressing the feeding deficit.

“The ministry, which was doing a lot to improve the condition of the IDPs, towards this end, set up a nutrition desk and attached a desk officer.”

According to Mrs Iveren Terfa, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, breastfeeding actually boosts children’s immunity.

Terfa however, acknowledged that women were carrying a lot of burdens that were affecting their maternal responsibilities; and the challenges they often faced were enormous.

The permanent secretary promised to relay the message of the advocacy to the commissioner and management of the ministry.

 

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