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NASS currently working on 6-month maternity leave bill to promote exclusive breastfeeding – Senator

Ibrahim Oloriegbe, chairman, senate committee on health and primary health care disclosed that the National Assembly is currently working on a six-month maternity leave bill that will serve as a major vehicle to drive innovative strategies that will promote breastfeeding in Nigeria.

The chairman said the bill will support working class mothers to stay at home and continue breastfeeding for six months and will make for breastfeeding space at work places

He added that the hill will ensure the priotisation of breastfeeding mothers and children at health facilities and other public service delivery points.

Oloriegbe also informed that the committe is working to ensure that NAFDAC strictly enforces the international code for marketing of breast milk substitutes.

The chairman who said this at webinar organised by Save the Children in commemoration of the 2020 Breastfeeding week described the promotion of breastfeeding as an investment in human capital and investment in the health of the planet.

Chito Nelson, Head, Food and Nutrition division, ministry of finance, budget and national planning noted that breastfeed children are not only productive, it’s practice does not waste scarce resources. She explained that breast milk is a naturally renewable resource that requires no packaging, shipping or disposal of cans, hence “very environment friendly.”

She described the theme “Innovative strategies for Improving Breastfeeding and Nutrition in Nigeria” as apt.

Maryam Ahmed, Global Youth Leader on Nutrition, argued that to breastfeed is much more cheaper than to purchase a breast milk substitute. She noted that recycling is not a common practice in Nigeria, therefore an increase in number of women breastfeeding exclusively will reduce purchase of substitutes of which it’s disposal contributes to environmental pollution.

Aisha El-rufa’i, wife of the Kaduna state governor, pointed out that the promotion of breast milk substitutes by infant food companies is a major concern that must be addressed by relevant authorities

“We must work jointly to stop all forms of donation of free samples of these infant formulas and enact laws that stop inappropriate marketing of breast milk substitutes. The national Code on marketing of breast milk substitute must be strengthened”, she said.

She added that another challenge to exclusive breastfeeding is the fact that some mothers still strongly believe that other fluids should be given to the child in addition to breastfeeding

“80 percent of breast milk is made of water, nothing else should be given to babies. Mothers must be discouraged from given any fluid other than breast milk for six months unless medicaly indicated”, she said.

According to her, all these actions will have a multiplier effect and reduce child mortality.

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