By Sani Idris
Mr Muktar Ahmed, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Planning and Budget Commission (PBC), has said that optimal breastfeeding is the building block for human capital development and essential to child survival.
Mukthar said this at a one-day strategic dialogue on the implementation of six months maternity leave and establishment of creches in work places.
It was organised by the Department of Aid Coordination, Kaduna PBC, in collaboration with UNICEF.
He noted that breastfeeding also contributed to health and development, adding that poor Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices were major contributors to the high burden of infant and childhood morbidity and mortality.
He explained that breastfeeding children also provided all the necessary nutrients for growth, and contained important antibodies fighting against diseases which made the child smarter.
The commissioner further said that
mothers also benefited from breastfeeding, noting that it reduced the risk of depression, breast and ovarian cancer, saved time and money, while enhancing bond between mother and child .
“it is based on this that the Kaduna State Government became one of the states to implement the WHO-recommended six months paid maternity leave policy and would ensure provision of creches to aid breastfeeding mothers to continue nursing their babies even after resuming work.
“In addition to promoting the health and wellbeing of its citizens, the present administration is poised to invest in human capital development as contained in its sustained agenda.
“The sustained agenda is aimed at building and strengthening a health care system that is preventive in approach, well equipped and staffed, accessible and affordable, and oriented to deliver a decent standard of care,” he said.
In a presentation tittled “The roles of stakeholders in promoting breastfeeding”, the Director, Development Aid Coodination PBC, Mrs Linda Yakubu, said breastfeeding was one of the most cost effective and impactful practices for reducing malnutrition and under-five mortality.
Yakubu described breastfeeding as a human rights issue for babies and mothers, stressing that it should be protected and promoted for the benefit of both.
She, therefore, called on the government and stakeholders to work together to create a breastfeeding-friedly environment for lactating mothers.
“A warm chain of support will help build an enabling environment for breastfeeding and protect parents
and families against breastmilk substitutes industry influence.
“Legislation must be enacted and upheld to protect mothers and parents right to enhanced maternity and parental leave.
“Establishment of creches and lactating rooms for working mothers to sustain continous breastfeeding practices is very important,” Yakubu said.
Also, Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, said breast milk contained everything baby needed for the first six months of life in all the right proportions.
She added that breast milk composition changed according to babies changing needs, especially during the first month of life.
Ezeife, therefore said in view of that, Kaduna MDAs should ensure provision of creches for babies to enjoy uninterrupted six months of breastfeeding by their mothers while at working place.
She said UNICEF was working towards ensuring the provision of creches at all the MDAs was a reality.
Also, the Project Manager of Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria, (ANRiN), Dr. Zainab Muhammad-Idris, said that breast milk provided optimal nutrition for babies.
She noted that it had the right amount of nutrients and easily digested and readily available at birth.
Muhammad-Idris who is a medical practitioner, added that breastfeeding also reduced the disease burden for mothers.(NAN)