By Steve Oko
Abia State says it has recorded 80% compliance with exclusive breastfeeding.
The State Cordinator, Baby Friendly Initiative, Abia State Primary Health Development Agency, Queeneth Erondu, who disclosed this in an interview with Vanguard, said the state had sustained aggressive sensitisation on exclusive breastfeeding.
Erondu who spoke on the sidelines of this year’s exclusive breastfeeding week by UNICEF, commended nursing mothers for heeding counsels given them during antenatal visits.
She said that the state would continue to sensitise mothers and caregivers on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, expressing hope that more progress will be recorded.
UNICEF gave the theme of this year’s breastfeeding week as “Step up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support.”
UNICEF said it is partnering to sufficiently raise global awareness on exclusive breastfeeding and galvanize support and hold stakeholders accountable.
Meanwhile the Commissioner for Health, Dr Joe Osuji, has said that nursing mother in the state should not expect any incentives from Government before they breastfeed their babies.
The Commissioner who spoke exclusively with our Correspondent, was responding to appeals by some nursing mothers in the state who said they were willing to exclusively breastfeed their babies but needed some support from Government to enable them feed better following the econiomic hardship in the country.
They made the appeals during interview with our Correspondent on this year’s exclusive breastfeeding week being promoted by UNICEF.
One of the women at Uzuakoli who pleaded for anonymity said feeding well had become a challenge affecting the flow of her breastmilk, arguing that she cannot observe exclusive breastfeeding without feeding well.
She pleaded with Government to consider special incentives for nursing mothers in the state to enable them feed well and in turn exclusively breastfeed their babies.
Another nursing mother who simply identified herself as Mrs Precious said she had sufficient knowledge of the numerous gains of exclusive breastfeeding but could not observe it as she had to go out and attend to her job.
The mother of three who said she observed exclusive breastfeeding for her first and second babies due to the many benefits, stated that consideration of incentives for nursing mothers especially the economically-challenged would help promote exclusive breastfeeding.
She said she received enough education on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding during her antenatal visits.
But the Commissioner for Health ruled out the possibility of any special incentives for nursing mothers, saying it is their responsibility to breastfeed their babies.
” Government cannot give any incentives to nursing mothers. We already give free delivery packs to mothers who give birth at Primary Health Centres. We attend to them free.
” But for them to breastfeed their babies is their prerogative. My mother breadtfed me for eight months, and she was going to farm. In those days there was no money to even buy supplements.
” The only incentives Government can provide is to give people jobs when there is opportunity so they can earn salaries and help themselves. We can also give incentives to those who want to go into farming.
” But Government cannot give incentives for somebody to breastfeed her baby.”
The Commissioner said that the Governor’s wife had flagged off the breastfeeding campaign in the state, adding that Health Authority Secretaries in the various Local Government Areas are taking the campaign to the grassroots.
He, however, encouraged nursing mothers in the state to embrace exclusive breastfeeding due to many benefits in the practice.