World breastfeeding week witnessed unusual sensitization programmes organised by various agencies and the government in Ebonyi State.
Women groups, including the National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) and Catholic Women organisations, joined the State government in varied interactive sessions, and campaigns in markets advocating for increased participation in Exclusive breastfeeding.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Daniel Umezurike during one of the road shows said that nothing is too much to be done in ensuring that the practice is increased and sustained.
He applauded the improved consciousness and thanked various organisations that had been contributing to actualising the target of having every child enjoy exclusive breastfeeding, among which he said that UNICEF has continued to show commitment.
He noted also that Breakthrough Action Nigeria (BA- N), a USAID-funded organization in the country has done much.
The organisation, BA-N during its own programme called for the enactment of by-laws by community leaders to support exclusive breastfeeding.
USAID – BA-N stated this in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state during a media chat with newsmen to mark the 2022 world breastfeeding week with the theme “Step up for breastfeeding: Educate and support”.
The breastfeeding week which started with road work in Abakaliki in collaboration with the state ministry of health on the 1st of August will end on the 7th with line-up activities.
Clinton Ofoegbu Nutrition focal person for Breakthrough Action Nigeria explained that the benefit of exclusive breastfeeding is multiple, pointing out that babies that were exclusively breastfed stand to benefit from it much and also love their mother more than those who were denied access to exclusive breastfeeding by their mothers.
The BA-N nutrition focal person explained that exclusively breastfed babies have a sharper brain and first breast milk after birth contains cholesterol which helps in hormone development, consequently, the babies are protected against killer diseases.
“BA-N as a social behavioural change organization is interested in changing the mindset and behaviour of community members as regards 17 priority health behaviours bordering around immunization, ANC visits, malaria prevention, maternal child health, plus nutrition.
“Now on breastfeeding week BA-N is calling the media to help sensitize all and Sundry regarding early initiation in breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, ANC visits the health facilities and postnatal care where they get information on how to address breastfeeding challenges, how to carry out positioning and attachment during breastfeeding, how to combine complementary feeding for 6 to 29 months together with breastfeeding at the community level.
“We want community leaders, youth groups, market women everybody to come to support, to promote breastfeeding in all the ways they can ensure there is a baby-friendly space in your workplace, and ensure mothers are at liberty to breastfeed their baby anytime.
“Community leaders help to enact policies to support breastfeeding at the community level and prevent women to overwork themselves when it is time to breastfeed.
“Men in the community should be involved. give women a chance when it is time to breastfeed, take care of the house chores when your wife is breastfeeding, take care of other children, and prepare dinner for the family while your wife breastfeeds the new baby these are the things we are trying to promote in the media and we hope that the media disseminate the message so that the whole Ebonyi state will move towards ensuring that breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported.
On the benefits to the society, he said, “Once a child is breastfed exclusively the child gets first immunization, it prevents the child from getting infections, early breast milk helps in brain development, when the child is exclusively breastfed and well breastfeed 6-29 months that child’s brain will be optimal at the end of the day we have less out of school children, we have bright children in the class and they will become beneficial to the society help to improve the economy and the development of the society at large.