By Chidi Nkwopara
Parents have been advised to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of their early life to protect them against childhood illnesses.
The Director, Public Health and Primary Health Care Department, Ministry of Health, Owerri, Dr.Â Victoria Onyenekwu, gave the advice at Omuma, Oru East local government area of the state, during a one day training of over 100 mothers.
The training, which was largely centred on breastfeeding and complimentary feeding, was organized by the state Ministry of Health in collaboration with UNICEF â€˜Aâ€™ Field Office, Enugu, to mark this yearâ€™s World Breastfeeding Week celebration.
Dr. Onyenekwu stressed the urgent need for mothers to commence breastfeeding within the first 15 minutes after delivery to expel the placenta and reduce the risk of after birth bleeding.
She noted that exclusive breastfeeding protects mothers from breast and ovarian cancers, pointing out that exclusively breastfed babies are more intelligent and better accepted in the society.
In her lecture, the state baby friendly initiative coordinator, Miss Chinwe Chukwukere, associated over 50 percent of infant mortality to malnutrition.
She explained that this yearâ€™s world breastfeeding week with the theme, â€œbreastfeeding a vital emergency responseâ€, emphasizes what breastfeeding is, especially in emergencies.
Continuing, Miss Chukwukere said that young children need adequate diet, which should include cereals like maize and rice, legumes such as beans, groundnuts, soya beans, affordable animals protein such as crayfish and fish.
She also recommended fats and oil such as red palm oil, margarine, fruits and vegetables to stay healthy, grow and develop properly.