By Chioma Obinna
To increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in Lagos, the private sector as well as Traditional Birth Attendants, TBAs, have been urged to encourage pregnant and lactating mothers that seek health care services in their facilities to embrace the culture of breastfeeding.
This was the focus of a one-day sensitisation workshop organised by Alive & Thrive (A & T) a non-governmental organisation, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and managed by FHI 360 with a view to saving lives, prevent illness and ensure healthy growth and development in infants through improved breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices in partnership with Lagos State government to mark the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week.
In her views, the Director, Family Health & Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Mrs. Folashade Folashayo Oludara, who was represented by Dr. Eniosho Masidat,said both groups have key role to play in breastfeeding.
Oludara said when all the sectors come together to work as a team and pass the message of exclusive breastfeeding to one another, it would help increase the breastfeeding rate in the state.
Representative of Project Director, Mr Victor Ogbodo, Dr. Uche Ralph-Opara, noted: “It is very important that we gathered you particularly the private sector, and traditional birth attendants.
“Typically we will get people mostly from the public sector, but we decided to change our focus this year and talk with the private sector because whether we like it or not, majority of the pregnant women and lactating mothers come to seek care from you.
“So we would like you to walk out of here as breastfeeding champions at the end of the day; spreading the word. Encourage women to breast feed even when they struggle and they come back to you, encourage them to keep breast feeding and not to look for the alternative,” Ralph-Opara advised.
The Managing Director/CEO, Child Health Advocacy Initiative, (CHAI), Mrs. Lola Alonge, noted that breastfeeding statistics from Lagos and Nigeria at large was still very low.
“We can sustain breastfeeding together starting from the family, community, health workers and employers.
“Looking at issues like water with exclusive breastfeeding especially in the first 30 minutes after birth which is an issue with private practitioners and TBAs, and of course other issues like breastfeeding in public places, we need your support.”
In the view of Family Health & Nutrition, FH&N, Mrs. Taiwo Fadairo: “From studies, it has shown that a baby can feed well and the baby will be sustained only on breast milk for the first six months even with multiple births. It is very possible.
“There are a lot of issues with breastfeeding to the extent that some mothers say no; this baby doesn’t like breast milk. There is no child that does not like breast milk because it is nature’s own best meal for that child. So it is the way and manner, our practices, our action, how we carry those babies, positioning and attachment and all others that shows how some children enjoy breastfeeding and the other children refuse breastfeeding,” Fadairo said.