By Philip Yatai
The Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has urged the Kaduna State Government to fast tract the formulation and passage of maternal and paternal leave bill, to promote exclusive breastfeeding in the state.
The state Coordinator in the state, Mr Silas Ideva, made the call in Kaduna on Wednesday, at the opening of a media engagement on breastfeeding practices in Kaduna State.
Ideva recalled that the Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i had in his inaugural speech for the second tenue pronounced the extension of maternity leave from three to six months.
The move, according to El-Rufai, was to support working class mothers to exclusively breastfeed their babies to give them a good start in life.
However, to ensure sustainability, Ideva said that nutrition partners have been advocating for a legal framework for maternity leave and proposed two weeks paternity leave for fathers.
He said that the state government had made a commitment to formulate the bill, stressing the need to cover working class mothers in the private sector.
According to him, the bill, if formulated and passed, will play a critical role in promoting optimal exclusive breastfeeding practices and improve the nutrition indices of children in the state.
“The World Health Organization recommends mothers worldwide to exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months to achieve optimal growth, development and good health.
“It is, thereafter, expedient that babies should be given nutritious complementary foods only after the first six months of birth and continue breastfeeding up to the age of two years or beyond.
“This is because breastmilk contains all the nutrients required by infants for healthy growth and development, thereby building the child’s immunity against diseases and prevents malnutrition.”
The coordinator pointed out that mothers who want to practice exclusive breastfeeding were constrained by several factors.
He identified some of the factors to include lack of institutional and family support, inadequate baby-friendly facilities to lack of awareness.
He explained that the objective of the media engagement was to mobilise journalists to support the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding in the state.
Mr Abubakar Musa, programme Officer, Alive and Thrive (FHI 360), pointed out that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding was very low at 19.7 per cent.
Musa stressed that much needs to be done to bridge the gap between knowledge of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and practice.
According to him, engaging the media is key not only in creating the needed awareness but advocacy and holding the government to account on their commitment to improve nutrition of women and children.
Similarly, Dr Zainab Muhammad-Idris, Programme Manager, World Bank-supported Accelerating Nutrition Result in Nigeria (ANRiN), urged journalist to support the government and development partners to promote optimal breastfeeding practices in the state.
Muhammad-Idris said that the ANRiN programme was supporting the state government in the implementation of infant and young child feeding community management of acute nutrition, maternal and adolescent girls nutrition.
Culled from Development Dairy