2023 WBW: Kaduna Govt, Stakeholders Harp on Exclusive Breastfeeding
By: Femi Mustapha
As the 2023 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) celebration kicks off, the Kaduna State Primary Health Care Board, in collaboration with UNICEF, Alive & Thrive, Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Save the Children International (SCI), Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria Project (ANRiN), and other development partners, have urged state residents to become advocates of exclusive breastfeeding and support mothers in practicing optimal breastfeeding for the good of the state.
Addressing the media on Tuesday, 1st of August to kick off the week-long activities, the State Deputy Governor, Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe, said breast milk is the ideal food for infants—safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
She explained that breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that infants need for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of their first year, and up to one-third during the second year of life.
Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe stressed that breastfeeding provides many unmatched, proven health benefits for babies and mothers, as well as potential economic and environmental benefits for communities.
She, however, pointed out that only 29% of Nigerian babies are exclusively breastfed according to national recommendations (NDHS 2018), even though Kaduna State has recorded some improvement at 41.1% (according to MICS 2021), which is still short of being adequate.
The Deputy Governor, represented by the Commissioner for Health, Hajia Umma Ahmed, noted that breastfeeding has been shown to reduce the risk of many infections, such as ear infections, respiratory infections, and gastrointestinal illnesses.
“They are also at a lower risk of developing chronic diseases later in life, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and asthma. The benefits of breastfeeding are long-lasting and can continue into adulthood.
“Breastfeeding has many benefits for mothers as well. It can reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast and ovarian cancer.
“Breastfeeding also promotes postpartum weight loss, as it burns calories and helps the uterus to contract back to its pre-pregnancy size.”
Dr. Hadiza Sabuwa Balarabe disclosed that Kaduna State has pronounced and implemented a six-month paid maternity leave (extended from the earlier three months) for mothers working in the State Civil Service.
This, according to her, has already taken effect across all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), with the hope that all others, even in the Private and Federal Sectors working in the state, will follow suit.
“The establishment of creches across MDAs (Ministry of Human Services and Social Development as well as the Planning and Budget Commission) to support lactating mothers to continue breastfeeding their infants, even after the maternity leave, when they resume work.
“The state government has established nutrition corners across 23 LGAs to provide nutrition counseling and practical demonstrations on how to adequately prepare food and feed infants aged 6-59 months.
“Healthcare workers and Community Volunteers have also been trained on the recommended Community Infant and Young Child Feeding (C-IYCF) interventions set up across all LGAs of Kaduna State.
“The state has also provided a conducive environment for mothers to adequately breastfeed by implementing the state policy on food and nutrition, ensuring compliance with the six months paid maternity leave.”