By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

Worried by the heightened spate of premature babies in the country, a non-governmental organization, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, WBFA, has disclosed that over 871,000 premature babies are born in Nigeria annually.

This was made known by the Executive Director WBFA, Dr. Otun Wale, where he gave the statistics in Abuja, to commemorate this year’s global 2021 World Breastfeeding Week, themed: “Protecting Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility .”

He said this came, as improvements need to be made in the neonatal intensive care unit of the country, where babies that are born prematurely could get access to quality and mother’s own breastmilk.

He added that this will cushion the growing rate of malnourished babies born in the country, by providing dedicated support to help mothers of premature and ill neonates successfully lactate and breastfeed.

According to him, Nigeria has one of the highest rate of infant malnutrition and stunting, which he said affects early childhood development and another aggregation of low exclusive breastfeeding rate of 29 percent which is below the 50 percent global target.

“This will adhere strictly to the World Health Organisation {WHO} International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Code and Nigeria Breastmilk Substitutes Law (2019)”, he noted.

Continuing, he said “The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, has over a decade championed breastfeeding advocacy to healthcare facilities and communities to ensuring that babies are put to breast within the first one hour of life and continue on breast milk only for the first 6 months of life and breastfeeding with complementary feeds for two years, thereby protecting the nutritional right of every Nigerian newborn.

“Babies on NICU admission are however left out on this breast milk feeding campaign as there are no National Guidelines on lactation of NICU babies.

“The poorly equipped facilities which are under staffed has further negatively impacted the quality of nutrition in NICUS thereby contributing to the morbidity and mortality of newborns.

“On this note I will Iike to congratulate the FMOH and other partners who contributed to the recently launched National Guideline on baby friendly Initiatives

“Let me use this opportunity to call on the Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to lead us on working on another guideline specifically feeding of babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Nigeria.”


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