From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Civil Society Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has called on nursing mothers, especially those in the formal sector, to practice exclusive breastfeeding to justify the six months maternity leave granted by the Kaduna State Government.
CS-SUNN and other partners believe that children who are exclusively breastfed in their first six months of life are healthier and smarter.
The organisation is, however, not happy that despite the six months maternity leave in the state, a higher number of lactating mothers do not practise exclusive breastfeeding.
CS-SUNN Coordinator in Kaduna Jessica Bartholomew, at a review meeting in Kaduna, noted that responsible governments, ministries and agencies need to embark on a massive campaign to change the behaviour of women in this category so the state can develop smart and intelligent leaders.
‘We need to keep educating our reproductive-age women on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. We will also take advocacy to the government on this. It is not good that some women are still not practising exclusive breastfeeding even when they were given six months maternity leave for that purpose,’ she said.
Earlier in a report presented by the Secretary of the CS-SUNN in Kaduna, Daniels Akpan, 146 children age 5 to 12 were reached with personal hygiene practice and nutrition education in 3 Local Government Areas.
According to that report, 75 lactating mothers of children between 6 – 24 months and pregnant women were reached with food preparation and demonstration methods while 66 women were counselled on income-generating activities through cooperative groups.
The report further said, 84 traditional leaders, women leaders, youth groups on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices at the community level were also reached during their advocacies across the 5 LGAs (Kaduna North, Kaduna South, Igabi, Chikun and Kajuru) to increase awareness of nutrition issues among these groups as well as educate pregnant women and other stakeholders on the importance of maternal and IYCF practices.
It is important to add that, Enugu, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano and Oyo States in Nigeria are currently implementing the SUN Movement Pooled Fund (Window ll) which is a source of funding for catalytic and innovative projects to support Multi-Sector/Stakeholder Platforms in SUN Countries to increase the effectiveness and impact of national efforts to end malnutrition in all its forms.
The objective of Window II of the Pooled Fund is to strengthen linkages and collaboration within the Multi-sector/Stakeholder Platform at both the national and sub-national levels.
The grant support improvement of the delivery of multi-sectoral nutrition activities that impact nutrition outcomes for nutritionally vulnerable groups including women, girls and adolescents, and communities at the local level.
The Pooled Fund grants promote the engagement of additional relevant actors in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder national plans for nutrition, at the national and sub-national levels.