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Breastfeeding Week: SCI, NGF advocate for breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers

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As Nigeria join the rest of the world to commemorate 2022 World Breastfeeding Week, Save the Children International (SCI) in conjunction with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) is calling for the promotion and sustenance of breastfeeding-friendly environments for lactating mothers and their babies.   

In a report released on Wednesday, SCI and NGF stressed the importance of breast milk to children especially in addressing malnutrition.  

They described breast milk as a natural, free, accessible and rich nutritious source of all valuable nutrients that saves lives and serves as vaccine. According to them, breast milk enhances child growth and development, increases their performance at school, improves immunity to withstand diseases and savings from household income.  

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Save the Children’s report “Nutrition Critical: Why we must act now to tackle child malnutrition (2020)” indicated that if breastfeeding were adopted at close to universal levels, in low- and middle-income countries, 823,000 child deaths could be prevented each year. And it would lead to global savings of US$300 billion per year, as a result of enhancing human capacity – increasing intelligence and boosting adult earning potential.  

The report further revealed that early initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of life, alongside exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and complementary feeding until the age of two, is essential to child survival, health, growth and development. 

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On the occasion of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week, The Director-General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru said that ‘’our organization has been in support of the full boarding of health and medical facilities at workplaces and in fact, as a proactive organization, we have a functional creche in our office where nursing mothers can keep their offspring and we recommend that all organizations should make provision for such to enhance baby/mother bonding without necessarily affecting their jobs adversely.’’ 

Mr. Famari Barro, Country Director, Save the Children International, Nigeria said that “proper education of the mothers and their caregivers/support systems on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding, can encourage them to practice it. All health workers, including health professionals and lay health workers, who come into contact with women, infants and families must be adequately trained to provide evidence-based breastfeeding support”.

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SCI and NGF believe that health workers, professionals and their professional associations should be key advocates for breastfeeding and play an important role in influencing political support for breastfeeding in Nigeria.

The 2022 World Breastfeeding Week focuses on strengthening the capacity of different relevant actors; health workers and other structures at community levels that must take positive actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding. 

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