United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has advocated a zero-water campaign that promotes giving babies breast milk only, from the moment of birth and through the first six months of life.
The Chief of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Juliet
Chiluwe stated this Thursday in her welcome remark at the Zonal Media dialogue on 2023 World Breastfeeding Week organised by the Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency (Anambra SPHCDA) in collaboration with UNICEF Enugu Field Office with the team ‘Enabling breastfeeding: making a difference for working parents.’
Chiluwe, represented by Ngozi Onuora, Nutrition specialist at UNICEF Enugu Field Office, said Zero water for a newborn for six months and two years of breastfeeding with complementary feeding would make a great difference in the child’s survival, growth and development.
She called on the media to set up the right agenda and the best possible ways to promote zero water camping and exclusive breastfeeding for newborn babies to lower health costs for the mother and the child and also the cost of the health system among many other benefits.
In the opening speech, the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Chisom Uchem, who represented the Governor of Anambra State Chukwuma Soludo, commended UNICEF for super heading all the matters about children and women in the state.
She said that the state would do everything possible to ensure that the children and women key into all the UNICEF activities and programmes aimed at promoting the health of the children and women.
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The nutrition specialists, UNICEF Field Office Enugu, Onuora who spoke extensively on the topic ‘Zero water campaign – an Overview’, said that the zero water campaign promotes giving babies breast milk only on demand day and night and stopping the practice of giving water and other liquids and foods from the moment of birth.
Its aim is for all countries to achieve the World Health Assembly global breastfeeding target of 50 percent by 2025.
Onuora said that breastfeeding is a powerful lifesaver and that it is also critical for the long-term health and well-being of both mother and child.
She noted that the practice of feeding extra water in addition to breast milk is widespread in Nigeria and advised that other foods and liquids are fed prematurely as is harmful, pointing out that the extra water not only introduces illness-causing pathogens but also reduces the child’s thirst and effective sucking over the years.
The UNICEF Enugu Field Office Communication Officer Ijeoma Onuoha Ogwe, who introduced the meeting’s objectives, said the challenge was to create awareness and sensitise the people, galvanise efforts to get close to the people in the rural areas to ensure that the message of Zero water and exclusive breastfeeding gets to them.
She advised the media to map out the campaign strategy for a four-month zero water campaign and promoting exclusive breastfeeding in both the urban and rural communities, outside the one-week breastfeeding week; the Enugu UNICEF Field Office is determined to change the results of exclusive breastfeeding indices within the states under it for the benefit and lives of the children and mothers.