By Chioma Obinna
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to celebrate the 2012 World Breastfeeding Week,experts, yesterday, bemoaned the low rate of breastfeeding in the country blaming it on the incidence of HIV and the unwillingness of mothers, especially the upper class, to breast feed publicly.
At a briefing to mark this year’s World breastfeeding Week in Lagos with theme: Understanding the Past- Planning the Future, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adesina, said the 20 per cent breast feeding rate achieved in Lagos was made possible by women in the grassroots.
In 2005, statistics available put the breast feeding rate in Nigeria at 53 per cent. Unfortunately, the figure has dropped to 18 per cent.
Adesina who explained that efforts were being made to improve the breastfeeding rate through the creation of breastfeeding rooms/ crèches in workplaces called on government establishments and corporate bodies to adopt baby friendly initiatives such as the provision of breastfeeding rooms in their offices.
”These practices are obtainable in international communities and we should encourage this within our own environment,“ she said.
To ensure that HIV was no longer a problem to breastfeeding mothers, she explained that with the introduction of Nevirapine, an anti-retroviral drug for mothers living with HIV, babies born to these mothers would no longer be denied exclusive breast feeding for the first six months life.
The Special Adviser further explained that the aim of the Week was to sustain the practice of breast feeding.