The Enugu state Primary Health Care Development Agency (ENS-PHCDA), on Wednesday, counseled mothers to maintain optimal hygiene and a clean environment, while engaging in exclusive breastfeeding of their infants.
Dr George Ugwu, Executive Secretary of ENS-PHCDA, gave the advice in Enugu at the World Breastfeeding Week Grand Finale/Baby Show for Enugu East Local Government Area, held at Abakpa Health Centre.
Ugwu, who was represented by Mr Fabian Neboh, Director, Community Health Services in the agency, also called on mothers to make regular hand washing with soap and running water a habit.
“As we are already imbibing the exclusive breastfeeding system; we should do all to up our hygiene level and ensure we protect our babies from air and water borne diseases, especially the dread COVID-19.
“I will advise that as soon as the second batch of the COVID-19 vaccines arrives in the state, you make it a duty to get vaccinated to better protect your baby and other members of your household.
“And wear your face mask whenever you have to engage outside your homes and keep some level of distance from other people as you carry out your daily activities,” she cautioned.
Ugwu urged pregnant women to regard attending antenatal clinics as ‘very serious’, as “it provides opportunity for would-be mothers to learn when, why and how breastfeeding should be administered and other safety precautions”.
The executive secretary noted that breast-milk remained the ultimate food for any baby, because it acted as the first immunisation of the child against child-killer diseases.
Also speaking, Dr Ada Erinne, state Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO) in Enugu, said that the organization wanted the state to raise the status of children being breastfed within six months from 49 per cent to 80 per cent.
Erinne, who was represented by Mrs Angela Izegbune, National Immunisation Officer, WHO, Enugu, reminded mothers that lack of breastfeeding was inimical to their health years after child birth.
“You might develop breast cancer, obesity and others if you do not let the breast milk out to the deserving child.
“On a positive note, exclusive breastfeeding of a baby helps to create a bond between mother and child; helps mothers to attain optimal health, heal their wombs and flatten their tummy as fast as possible”, Erinne said.
In a message, Mrs Kehinde Macaulay, Communication for Development (C4D), Consultant of UNICEF, said that breast-milk remained a natural gift from God and the best a mother should give her infant.
Macaulay said that breastfeeding helps in brain and physical development of the infant; while creating the natural love between mother and child, even as the child grows to adulthood.
“We are appealing to fathers, brothers and sisters to ensure they support and motivate our nursing mothers to do exclusive breastfeeding of babies for six months and initiation of breastfeeding within the first one hour of birth.
“They should continue breastfeeding along with nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods until two years old or beyond”, she said.
Earlier, Mrs Pauline Enenwali, the state Baby Friendly Initiative Coordinator, gave a health talk on the need for antenatal and periodic medical check-up while pregnant.
“Knowledge is power and antenatal provides you this unique knowledge and what you should do before, during and after child birth for all to be well,’’ Enenwali counseled.
In the baby show, Baby Zara Chijioke won the best breastfeed baby of the council area 2021; followed by Baby Izuchukwu Eze as runner-up, while Baby Ifeanyi Obu came third. They were all given deserving gifts.
Similarly, the award of outstanding antenatal attending pregnant mothers went to Mrs Theresa Ewesiobi in first position, with Mrs Onyinyechi Ugwumba and Mrs Grace Ugwumba, placing second and third respectively. They also went home with gifts.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the state government through the ENS-PHCDA had embarked on a month-long exclusive breastfeeding campaign in August, to strengthen activities around exclusive breastfeeding in the state.
The United Nations, through the WHO, has set aside Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 yearly as World Breastfeeding Week, whose theme for 2021 is: “Protect Breastfeeding, A Shared Responsibility”.
The week is meant to draw attention to critical issues of infant health and immune boost based on well-practiced exclusive breastfeeding programme. (NAN)