The Chief of Party, Stop Diarrhoea Initiative, Save the Children, Mr David Atamewalen, on Saturday decried the low level of compliance with exclusive breastfeeding by nursing mothers in Nigeria.
Atamewalen spoke at an awareness campaign organised by the initiative on breastfeeding for residents of Somolu Local Government Area and Bariga Local Council Development Area of Lagos State.
According to him, the level of compliance to the policy on exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria is still very low.
“The level of compliance is still a concern, because as at 2014, it was just 24 per cent.
The campaign was held in commemoration of the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) marked annually between Aug. 1 and 7.
The theme of the 2017 week is: “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together“.
Atamewalen said, “This is why we are intensifying efforts to ensure that more women adhere to the six months exclusive breastfeeding.“
He said that the campaign was a way of encouraging husbands to support their wives as they played a key role in sustaining exclusive breastfeeding.
“Most of the time, women are faced with lots of tasks and this is where men are supposed to show support.
“Also, men should understand that when a woman is delivered of her baby and is breastfeeding, there will be some physical changes in her body.
“Men should be able to understand those changes and not emphasise that the breast must be firm, because issues like this will discourage woman from adhering to exclusive breastfeeding,“ he said.
Atamewalen said that the initiative, which was in collaboration with the state government, was to demonstrate a seven point-plan promulgated by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organisation in 2009.
The seven point-plan has the capacity to stop diarrhoea among under five year-old children.
“The seven point-plan implies that you use rotavirus, which is the vaccine against diarrhoea; we are also looking at breastfeeding which we are celebrating and Oral Re-hydration Therapy.
“For exclusive breastfeeding, one of the plans is that when you sustain a child for the first six months of life, the child has a better opportunity to escape all the childhood killer diseases.
“When you have a stronger child, the prospect of development is ensures, because the child will not be able to come down with any of the killer diseases that comes with diarrhoea, “ Atamewalen said.
Also, Mr Adedapo Oduguwa, the Chairman, Community Development Council in Somolu, said that the initiative brought into the community would prevent deaths among the children.
Oduguwa urged residents in the community to embrace exclusive breastfeeding and ensure that they passed the message to their friends and relatives.
“This initiative has helped the community a lot, in terms of educating our mothers and also has helped us to save money and time.
“We will ensure that we make it mandatory for children to be fed with breast milk exclusively for six months and definitely, such children will have immunity against any untimely ailment, “ he said.
Two participants at the programme said that they had been enlightened on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.
A first time mother, Mrs Adizat Yusuf, said that she had planned to introduce baby food to her baby, because she was stressed during delivery of her baby.
“During my antenatal clinics, the nurses used to emphasise six months exclusive breastfeeding, but after delivery, I did not have the strength to breastfeed.
“But my mother-in-law had encouraged me to continue; now my baby is three months and I am determined to continue.
“Members of staff of this organisation have been educating us in our community, and now that I have come to the programme, I can understand the importance of exclusive breastfeeding,“ she said.
Another nursing mother, Mrs Bola Adeleye, said that her first two children were breastfed exclusively for six months, adding that she intended to do the same for her twins.
“My twin girls are four months now and I have the support of my husband and relatives to continue for six months.
“I am calling on mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies so that such babies can grow stronger and healthier,“ Adeleye said.