From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Delta State Government on Monday raised the alarm that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding of infants in the first six months after birth was still abysmally low among nursing mothers in the state.
The government said though the knowledge of exclusive breastfeeding was high, the actual practice leaves much to be desired.
The government stressed the need for nursing to adopt the practice of exclusive breastfeeding, even as it highlighted its importance to the health of the family.
Permanent Secretary at the Delta State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (DSPHCDA) Dr Jude Winful-Orieke made this known in Asaba during a press conference to mark this year’s World Breast Feeding Week.
He said early initiation to breastfeeding reduces maternal postpartum blood loss.
Orieke said the practice ‘decreases the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. It also contributes to healthy spacing.’
‘Breastfeeding enhances mental development thus promoting learning in the child. It gives every child a fair start in life and eliminates gender preference in feeding decisions,’ he added.
‘Exclusive breastfeeding and optimum complementary feeding reduce under-five mortality by 20% and enhances child welfare.
‘Breastfeeding is cost-effective and doesn’t burden household budgets. It also provides high-quality energy and nutrients to the young child thus preventing poverty and extreme hunger.’
According to him, the national policy on infant and young child feeding supports exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months in addition to continuous breastfeeding for a minimum of two years.
He disclosed that the state nutrition policy of ensuring healthy and adequate food for all Deltans complemented the infant and young child feeding strategy which lays the foundation for optimal growth and development of young children.
‘This emphasises the importance of increasing and sustaining the protection and support of breastfeeding. The creation of a good statewide public awareness campaign in respect of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life would enhance the achievement of the health-related SDGs and positively impact maternal and child health in the state.
‘The objectives of the 2021 World Breastfeeding Week is to provide information about the health-related SDGs and how they relate to breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding, and to showcase the progress made so far and the key gaps in breastfeeding and infant young child feeding.’