|Clement Adeyi, Osogbo
Health and nutrition experts have tipped proper breastfeeding as a panacea for the spate of infant mortality in Nigeria.
Nutrition Officer, Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Khadijat Alarape, stated this in Ibadan during a two-day South West media workshop with the theme: “Improving Health Outcomes for Children in Oyo State Through Accelerated Action for Impact.”
She lamented that lack of proper breastfeeding, leading to malnutrition, had resulted in the death of many newborns.
Alarape said many nursing mothers failed to breastfeed their babies immediately after birth.
She disclosed that every newborn was supposed to be put to breastfeeding by the mother 30 minutes after breastfeeding. But some mothers, due to ignorance and lack of awareness on child nutrition, resort to feeding the newborn with water and other infant formula.
Alarape also lamented that rather than giving breast milk to a newborn, some mothers give concoction or herbal drinks to the baby at birth, which expose the baby to diseases that result in death.
She stressed that the best feeding for newborns was exclusive breastfeeding which must last for six months before the commencement of supplementary feeding.
She also disclosed that newborn deaths were predominant in three local government areas in Oyo State, which had drawn the attention of UNICEF for intervention.
The affected areas, our correspondent gathered include Ibadan North, Ibarapa North and Saki West.
Alarape enthused that since UNICEF’s intervention through awareness and sensitisation programmes, the newborn death rate in the areas had reduced.
Alarape explained that many mothers believe that their breasts would sag if they embark on exclusive breastfeeding and neglect it to the detriment of the babies’ health.
She called on mothers to always ensure proper breastfeeding of their newborns through proper placement of their mouths on the areola (the black part of their breast) to be able to draw adequate breast milk instead of the nipples which cannot produce the breast milk, leading to malnutrition.
She disclosed that babies who do not receive adequate breast milk suckle the tip of the breast instead of reaching for the areola point of the breast.
UNICEF Health Specialist, Dr Adebola Hassan, regretted that many newborn die as a result of ill health due to lack of proper breastfeeding at birth.
She said proper breastfeeding of the newborn must not be compromised to ensure their survival and to reduce the infant mortality rate.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has called for media support on an accurate report on preventable child death in the country.
The Communication Officer, Blessing
Ejiofor said that the dialogue was organised to provide the media with information and materials to support informed media advocacy on preventable-child death and the accelerated action-impact initiative as a game changer to fast track reduction of preventable child death in Nigeria.
Ejiofor said the essence of the programme was to draw the attention of the government to the need to scale up actions with a view to reversing the trend of newborn death in the country.