The Permanent Secretary (PS), Delta State Primary Health Care Development Agency (DSPHCDA), Dr Jude Winful-Orieke, has decried the poor attitude of mothers to the six months exclusive breastfeeding practice in Nigeria.
Winful-Orieke lamented the situation at a press conference organized by the Agency to commemorate World Breastfeeding Week in Asaba, the State capital.
The world breastfeeding week is a global initiative of the United Nations to recreate breastfeeding as a strategy to achieving child survival and development.
Every year the 1st to 7th of August was set aside to create public awareness on the importance of breastfeeding with emphasis on early initiation, within 30 minutes of birth and thereafter.
The PS said that the theme for this year’s observance is: ‘’Protect breastfeeding: a Shared responsibility,’ emphasizing that exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months of life was vital.” The knowledge of breastfeeding is high, but the actual practice is still very low in the State and nationwide, hence, the need to intensify public health education on exclusive breastfeeding,” he added.
“The National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding supports exclusive breastfeeding at six months of life and the introduction of adequate complementary feeding, in addition to continuous breastfeeding for a minimum of two years,” Winful-Orieke said.
He added that the gains of exclusive breastfeeding for six months would enhance the achievement of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and positively impact maternal and child health in the State and the country at large.
“The medico-social benefits of exclusive breastfeeding include enhancement of mental development which promotes learning in a child. It provides high-quality energy and nutrition to the young child, it is cost-effective and less burdensome on the household budget, thus preventing poverty and extreme hunger.”
“Early initiation of breastfeeding reduces mental postpartum blood loss, decreases the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. It also contributes to healthy child spacing”, he said.
He warned mothers, who gave excuses that their breast could sag, of the consequences, saying that breastfeeding remained the right of the child.
“Whether a woman breastfeeds or not, her breast will sag someday and when a woman’s breast engorges, she is in for trouble, but the more they empty their breast, the more it will not engorge,” he stressed.
Winful-Orieke disclosed that the State government was considering ensuring that women in the State civil service were granted six months maternity leave.