The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on governments at all levels to make favourable policies that will not only encourage female public servants giving exclusive breastfeeding to their newborns, but also extend to private sectors for the overall interest of society.
Ibrahim Conteh, Chief of field office UNICEF Enugu, who disclosed this in Enugu during a one-day multi-zonal media dialogue with journalists selected from Abia, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Cross River and Kogi States. on 2021 world breastfeeding week also advocated for paternity leave because of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to newborn and their mothers.
The meeting was organised by UNICEF in collaboration with the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia state in Enugu.
Conteh explained that the first and the most essential nutrition in life is breastfeeding that no body can talk about nutrition without first mentioning breastfeeding and that it can never be compared with any other milk even in the west.
He pointed out that if exclusive breastfeeding is gotten right, all other things about the health and nutrition of newborn babies and their survival is achieved, he therefore appealed to the media to kindly take the message to the people at the rural areas with the language they will understand.
“Breastfeeding is a natural and low cost way of feeding babies and children. It is affordable for everyone and does not burden household budget compare to artificial feeding” he noted.
Conteh made it known that the responsibility of ensuring compliance to the advocacy for exclusive breastfeeding in all communities, families is the duty of all stakeholders.
Earlier, Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, Communication Officer, UNICEF, Enugu gave the objectives of the dialogue to include identifying media networks, to engage and equip journalists from the Enugu Field Office with more knowledge of exclusive breastfeeding.
She said the other major objectives of the meeting are for journalists to develop action plans to pitch stories that will motivate communities to support exclusive breastfeeding.
Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Enugu state, Peace Nnaji challenged young mothers who do not breastfeed their children for fear of not flattening their breasts to desist from such act, as they are denying the children a lot of natural nutrients that would make them grow and resist sickness.
She pointed out that nothing is preferable to the health of the child that the breast would flatten when the time comes, encouraged mothers to ensure exclusive breastfeeding of their children.
Oby Okefor, who represented Enugu state head of service said that the state has been doing a whole lot of things to encouraged feeding mother’s to do exclusive and that the state is considering extending the maternity leave to six months from four which it is now and that the issue of paternity leave would also be looked into.
Hanifa Namusoke, Nutrition manager UNICEF Enugu, who addressed so many nutrition issues called for proper education of the rural women on the kind of food and quantity the women should give to their children after six months of breastfeeding to avoid them been malnourish.
She advised breastfeeding mothers to ensure the baby finished one side of the breast before changing the baby to the other side to enable them to get all the nutrients, that the first is the protein while the thick last ones are the carbohydrates.