By Chioma Obinna
The need for a breast milk bank and full involvement of men in exclusive breast feeding of babies for six months as well as complimentary breast feeding for two years were issues on the front burner at a one – day sensitisation seminar organised by the Lagos State Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNICEF in Lagos last week.
Participants at the seminar advocated for establishment of a breast milk bank in Nigeria with a view to encouraging breast feeding of children with incapacitated mothers.
In the view of Acting Principal of School of Midwifery Lagos State, Mrs. Nnena Okorie in a paper entitled; Sustaining Breast-feeding in a Vital Response Emergency, it is better to establish a breast milk bank in the interest of the child.
Okorie was optimistic that one motherâ€™s breast milk could subsist for the another baby. â€œIf men should get involved in the promotion of exclusive breast feeding, the practice would automatically shoot up.â€
She said men could help during breast feeding, said there is need to support the mother in meeting the babyâ€™s needs, assists the mother in coping with the babyâ€™s demands.
Other roles she said, â€œmen should give the mother and the baby understanding, support and affection, encourage mother to eat and drink properly set limits on family activities and allow the mother to rest, adjust and recover fully from child delivery.â€
She also encouraged men to also help to change babyâ€™s diapers at night as well as assist mothers to perform the house work.
Noting that in the last two decades emphasis has been placed on exclusive breast feeding, she explained that it helps babyâ€™s nutrition, growth and development as well as protect the child against infection.
On strategies to sustain breast feeding, Okorie stressed the need for dissemination of information and motivation of mothers through mass media, health messages, support for breast feeding mothers in workforce amongst others.
She said sustaining breast feeding is a vital emergence as newborn need support from their mothers remain healthy. â€œWe must encourage the mothers to sustain life of babies through breast feeds at any condition.â€
In her lecture entitled; Breast Feeding Practices in Nigeria during the seminar to mark 2009 breast feeding week tagged â€œExclusive Breast feeding and Beyondâ€ Chief Medical Director Massey Children Hospital Lagos Dr. A Akande, reminded mothers that until formula milks provide protection against infection and facilitate nutrient absorption, they will remain inferior in quality to breast milk.
Akande, noted regretted that Nigeria has not been where it ought to be in breast feeding according to UNICEF data. She disclosed that a UNICEF data revealed that Nigeria has only 39 per cent of infants aged 0 to 59 months breast fed exclusively, saying that Nigeria falls below the required number. She stressed the need to support, promote breast feeding from birth.