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Prioritise 1st hour of child’s life

Toyin Saraki tasks mothers, health professionals

By Chioma Obinna

Founder of the Well Being Foundation, WBFA, and Wife of the Senate President, Toyin Saraki has encouraged mothers and healthcare professionals to prioritise the first hour of a child’s life as it is crucial in the health and development of the newborn.

Toyin Saraki

According to her, good nutrition in the first 1,000 days from conception to two years of age is critical to enable all children to live healthier and more productive lives.

Giving the advice during a sensitisation conference for Medical Directors; Orientation of Private Health Facilities in Lagos State on Infant and Young Child Feeding, IYCF, Practices in Lagos Saraki noted that the World Health Organisatio, WHO, recommends exclusive breastfeeding within the first hour after birth and until a baby is six months old.

Saraki who is also the Inaugural Global Goodwill Ambassador and International Confederation of Midwives, ICM,   while stating the impact of exclusive breastfeeding said: “Nutritious complementary foods should be added while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years or beyond.   “If 90 percent of mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life an estimated 13 percent of child deaths could be averted.

“If the same proportion of mothers provided adequate and timely complementary feeding for their infants from six to 24 months, a further six percent of child deaths could be avoided.”

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Continuing, she stated that Medical Directors of hospitals will play key role in the success of the Alive& Thrive programme in Lagos geared towards saving lives, prevent illness, ensure healthy growth and development through the promotion and support of optimal maternal nutrition, breastfeeding  and complementary feeding practices in rural and urban Lagos as well as Kaduna.

She lamented that malnutrition in Lagos alone accounts for more than 50 percent of under five mortality with a rate of timely breastfeeding initiation at only 28.9 percent.

“A mere 19.7 percent of children under six months in Lagos are breastfed exclusively and only 10 percent of children aged 6 to 23 months are fed appropriately.  The reality of those statistics is distressing as 47 percent of children in Lagos under -5 years are stunted while 34 percent are under -weight, “she added.

In his welcoming address the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris said the state was committed to providing the necessary support for nursing mothers hence the six months maternity leave for mothers in their first two pregnancies.  “We encourage the privet sectors to ensure the availability of crèches in organisations with more than 10 women of child bearing age,” he stated.

Speaking, the Chairman, AGPMPN, Lagos chapter, Dr Tunji Akintade  explained that the Alive & Thrive programme would change the narrative as regards breastfeeding in Nigeria.  According to him,  If the programme succeeds, it would change the behaviours of mothers towards exclusive breastfeeding.

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