By Victoria Ojeme
WIFE of the Senate President, Mrs. Toyin Saraki has declared 2017 as the year to bridge the yawning gap in exclusive breastfeeding by Nigerian mothers through her pet project, Wellbeing Foundation.
As part of efforts set to achieve the goal, the Foundation titled this year’s theme as: Sustaining Breastfeeding Together for the campaign.
WBFA as a non-governmental organization, mainly works through advocacy; healthcare provision and health promotion; awareness-creation; strategic policy advisory;? community and social mobilisation; and philanthropy.
Saraki said part of the marshal plans of the Foundation is to educate breastfeeding mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding both to them and their babies and how breastfeeding will help them stay away from some particular illnesses for the mother and the baby too.
‘‘We are doing basically education and showing them what we will help breastfeed their baby well. For working mothers they have a problem with expressing their milk so we are encouraging mothers to express their milk with the Mandela product breast pump both the manual and the electrical breast pump, to help mother express good quantity of milk to serve the baby while the mother is not with the baby,’’ she added.
According to her, the importance of breastfeeding in preventing deaths of children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is well recognised and documented in the Foundation.
Scaling up breastfeeding, she said could annually prevent approximately 800,000 deaths of children under the age of 5 years.
In Nigeria alone, 98 percent of new mothers initiate breastfeeding; however, by six months, only 25 percent of them are still exclusively breastfeeding.
Saraki also explained that the WBFA’s Mamacare Antenatal and Postnatal Education Programme’s findings have demonstrated that midwives are crucial and well placed to support mothers breastfeed thereby creating a healthy community.
UNICEF Nigeria Chief of Nutrition, Arjan de Wagt, said babies who are fed nothing but breastmilk from the moment they are born until they are six months old grow and develop better. Breast milk according to him, gives a child a head start in life and a chance to fight child malnutrition later in life.”