The Delta State Government through the Primary Health Care Development Agency in collaboration with Partner Agencies has commenced the establishment of Breastfeeding Support Groups in all its’ Council Areas and Wards with the view to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling.
The Delta State Commissioner for Health, Dr Mordi Ononye made this known in a statement he issued as part of activities to mark the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week with the theme “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet” slated for 1st to 7th August 2020.
The Commissioner, therefore, used the medium to implore women, including nursing mothers and caregivers to take advantage of the initiative of the State Government.
The Commissioner stated that “though we are in a pandemic let us remember that in our survival instinct, the most vulnerable population, especially women and children deserve attention and a high priority given to them in the distribution of resources”.
The statement read that breastfeeding target is to increase the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months up to at least 50%, while Delta State government targets 80% in the first instance.
Dr Ononye said that the World Breastfeeding Week reminds us of the need to promote, protect and support breastfeeding practices so as to develop the young (our leaders of tomorrow) adequately for better and productive adulthood.
” Breastfeeding should be initiated as early as the first hour of birth and continued to the second year of life as the early initiation of unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production to sustain the infants, leads to 87% preventable deaths in infants younger than 6 months and also ensures quicker recovery from childhood illnesses” the statement read.
The statement further explained that during breastfeeding, bonding is established between the baby and mother creating a healthy psycho-social relationship in the family which translates to security and wellbeing for all.
Dr Ononye revealed that the child, mother, family, community and the nation at large stands to benefit immensely when mothers embrace breastfeeding.
The Commissioner also revealed that Delta State had adapted “The National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding which describes exclusive breastfeeding as giving infants only breast milk in the first six months of life; no other liquids, drinks, semi-solids or solids, and not even-water except oral rehydration solution or drops/ syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines as prescribed by the physician”.
He explained that in line with the national policy, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond to meet their evolving nutritional requirements.”
Dr Onoye also stated that according to available statistics from the Multiple Indicators Custer Survey (MICS 2017), Nigeria had 97% breastfeeding rate for all nursing mothers and an exclusive breastfeeding rate of 25% which is less than the 2025 Global target of 50% for the first six months of childbirth.
In added that the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS 2018) revealed that Delta state breastfeeding rates for children 0-23 months of age were: 94% forever being breastfed; 49% for being breastfed within the first-hour birth; 80% for being breastfed within the first day of birth.
The Commissioner equally stated that Delta State’s 49% breastfeeding rate within the first hour of birth is still lower than the 2025 Global Target of 50% hence the urgent need to double efforts to bridge the gap.
He reiterated the State government’s commitment to monitoring progress arising from its partnership with the World Health Organization which endorsed the Global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition.
The targets the statement said are vital for identifying priority areas for action and catalyzing global change.”
“We are encouraged to promote breastfeeding all of the time. Institutions, organizations, families and individuals are enjoined to implement the breastfeeding policy as adopted by the Delta State Government in line with the Global Guidelines” the Commissioner said.