The State Nutrition Officer, Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency (CRSPHDA), Regina Adie said that only 7.8 percent of mothers in Cross River exclusively breastfed their babies.
Concise News gathered that Adie told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Calabar that the figure was too low for a state like Cross River, adding that residents and the state government were not happy about it.
The official said that CRSPHDA wanted all mothers in the state to not only know the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding but the fact that breast milk was a natural food created by God to enhance good health in babies.
According to her, the state is trying to eliminate the cultural practice of given babies water along with breast milk in the first few months of delivery to ensure healthy babies.
She noted that exclusive breastfeeding was for the benefit of babies, mothers and the nation at large.
“Mothers should ensure that in the first 1,000 days of their babies’ lives, breast milk should be given exclusively and regularly because we discovered that most of our mothers lacked awareness.
“When a baby is delivered, its intestines are very tender; it is breast milk that helps the child eliminate every impurity in the baby, as it serves as antibiotics.
“Also, the yellowish milk from the mother contains Vitamin A, which is very good for the child’s sight; in fact, the importance of breast milk cannot be over-emphasized.
“When you start introducing artificial milk or water early, you introduce foreign bodies into the baby, especially the water, because the sources are often suspect and may lead to diarrhea,” the nutrition officer said.
NAN reports that World Breastfeeding Week was held in Calabar from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 with a rally, symposium and a round-table discussion with journalists.
Concise News recalls that the Federal Ministry of Health says it would continue to promote exclusive breastfeeding and young child feeding practices in health facilities, communities, and workplaces.
The ministry via a statement issued by Chris Isokpunwu, Head of Nutrition of the Ministry, said the campaign was to improve the poor practice of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria as the world celebrates the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week.
Isokpunwu said the annual World Breastfeeding Week was scheduled to hold from August 1 to August 7, with the theme: Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.
He revealed that Nigeria was predominantly a breastfeeding nation with 97 percent compliance.
However, the rate of exclusive breastfeeding has only shown a minimal increase from two percent in 1990 to 17 percent in 2013.
“Poor exclusive breastfeeding practices in Nigeria have been associated with inadequate support from husbands, partners, and health professionals.
“Others include delayed initiation of breastfeeding, negative peer influences as well as short paid maternity leave for working mothers,” he said.
Isokpunwu added that a platform for long-term collaboration of all advocates, activists, decision-makers, media, and youth was vital for promoting optimal infant and young child feeding practices.
“To attain 50 percent exclusive breastfeeding targets set in the National Strategic Plan on Nutrition by 2018, the goal of sustainable promotion and support for optimal breastfeeding demands priority, during and post-implementation activities,” he added.