Save the Children International (SCI) and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) call on the government at all levels, public health experts, CEOs, managers, captains of industries, workplaces and community gatekeepers to promote, protect, support and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers and their babies in the post-pandemic era.
World Breastfeeding Week 2022 focuses on strengthening the capacity of relevant actors, health workers and other structures at community levels that must take positive actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.
It enhances child growth and development, increases their performance at school, improves immunity to withstand diseases and savings from household income.
Save the Children’s report “Nutrition Critical: Why we must act now to tackle child malnutrition (2020)” indicated that if breastfeeding were adopted at close to universal levels, in low- and middle-income countries, 823,000 child deaths could be prevented each year. And it would lead to global savings of US$300 billion per year as a result of enhancing human capacity – increasing intelligence and boosting adult earning potential.
The report further revealed that early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life, alongside exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and complementary feeding until the age of two, is essential to child survival, health, growth and development.
On the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week, SCI and NGF believe that health workers, professionals and their professional associations should be key advocates for breastfeeding and play an important role in influencing political support for breastfeeding in Nigeria.
Asishana Bayo Okauru, the Director-General of the NGF, said that ‘’our organisation has been in support of the full boarding of health and medical facilities at workplaces, and in fact, as a proactive organization, we have a functional creche in our office where nursing mothers can keep their offspring, and we recommend that all organizations should make provision for such to enhance baby/mother bonding without necessarily affecting their jobs adversely.’’
Famari Barro, Country Director, Save the Children International, Nigeria, said that “proper education of the mothers and their caregivers/support systems on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, can encourage them to practice it. All health workers, including health professionals and lay health workers, who come into contact with women, infants, and families must be adequately trained to provide evidence-based breastfeeding support.”
The leadership of Save the Children International and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum are working together to support initiatives where health care workers and providers, community workers and volunteers are adequately trained to provide breastfeeding counselling, correctly advise caregivers on child nutrition and provide psycho-social support to pregnant women, women with infants and young children and adolescent girls, thus integrating Mental Health & Psychosocial support into all Mother Infant and Young Child Feeding (MIYCF) counselling.
We are also focused on ensuring pregnant women and caregivers of children under two years of age benefit from social protection measures to support appropriate, respectful and safe maternity services and recommended infant and young child feeding practices in Nigeria.