By Chioma Obinna& Ebele Onuorah
LAGOS — As Nigeria joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2011 World Breastfeeding Week, the Lagos State Government has concluded plans to establish creches in the various state ministries as part of strategies to promote exclusive breast feeding in the first six months of life.
The plan to establish creches is coming even as the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, said no fewer than 1.5 million lives could be saved through exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life according to research.
Speaking at a press conference to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week tagged, “Talk to Me: Breastfeeding a 3D Experience,” Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina, noted that ample evidence supports breastfeeding as the healthiest and most reliable nutrition for babies’ survival.
She said breastfeeding remained a high impact intervention for ensuring the survival, adequate growth and development of the child.
She explained that Lagos State had been in the forefront of the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding and would not only support private sectors in the establishment of creches but would set up these centres in all the state ministries.
Her words, “Breast milk alone is the ideal nourishment for infants for the first six months of life as it contains all nutrients, antibodies, hormones and antioxidants and other factors an infant needs to thrive. Research also has it that breast milk protects babies from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections, stimulates their immune system and response to other diseases and to vaccination. It also promotes love and bond between mother and child which in turn improves the psychological well being of the baby.”
Adeshina who advocated the empowerment of women in order to breastfeed their babies appropriately said the theme of this year’s celebration, emphasises promoting communication of breastfeeding issues at various levels by using various communication strategies in strengthening breastfeeding practice and principles among the populace.
She urged husbands, fathers, parent-in-law, family members and the community at large to encourage women of child bearing age to initiate and sustain breastfeeding in their infants for the prescribed duration just as she stressed the importance of mothers to attend clinics regularly during which health education on nutrition including breastfeeding will be provided.
On activities planned for the week long celebration, she announced that there will be family enlightenment breastfeeding seminar of young couples, grandparents, adolescents, health workers, youth corps members, selected secondary school students and women of child bearing age.
“During the week-long celebration, maternal and child’s survival services and interventions will be provided at all primary health care facilities spread across the local government and local council development areas. These shall include counseling on exclusive breastfeeding, vitamin A administration, appropriate complementary feeding, immunization, vaccination of pregnant women with tetanus toxoid and health education on key household practices,” Adeshina explained.