The Wife of Ondo state governor, Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu , has called on nursing Mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for their children in the first six months of life.
Mrs Anyanwu-Akeredolu made the call on Thursday in Akure during the 2018 World Breastfeeding Day Symposium with the theme: ‘Breastfeeding, The Foundation of Life’.
The wife of the governor represented by Mrs Oluwatoyin Adegbenro, Wife of the Commissioner for Health, said it was imperative that women should breastfeed their children adequately from age 0 to six months.
“It is a well established fact that children who are exclusive breastfed during the first six months of life are more likely to be nutritionally balanced and experience optimal growth compared to their peers who are not exclusively breastfed.
“The practice of exclusive breastfeeding could serve as one of the major solutions to malnutrition in the state, unfortunately the practice has remained low for decades.
“Breast milk not only contains the overall nutritional need for infants less than six months of age, it also protects infants from exposure to unsafe food which could result to illnesses such as diarrhoea,” she said.
Anyanwu-Akeredolu explained that the low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding practice among mothers in Nigeria made the country one of those experiencing high infant mortality rate in the world.
“If the practice of exclusive breastfeeding can increase significantly, Nigeria will not only see her infant survive, but will also raise properly developed children,” she said.
The governor’s wife appealed that children should not be deprived of the benefits of breast milk due to myths and fallacies.
She charged all stakeholders to continue to work together to save the lives of children by advocating for optimal breastfeeding in their social space.
“It is our duty as religious leaders, community leaders, policy makers, nursing mothers and husbands to ensure our children grow optimally through adequate breastfeeding.
“To our husbands, please do not think you are excluded from ensuring optimal breastfeeding.
“Truly you cannot breastfeed, but you can support the nursing mother by helping with house chores,” she advised.
Speaking, Mrs Ada Ezeogu, Resource Specialist for UNICEF, Akure Field Office, said that UNICEF had set aside a week to create awareness on the benefits to exclusive breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding all over the world.
Ada promised that UNICEF would continue to advocate for the rights of children all over the World.
She appealed to the state government to increase the number of months for maternity leave, to enable nursing mothers breastfeed their children adequately.