Health Communication Experts Champion Exclusive Breastfeeding as Avenue for Enhanced Child Health

By Bashir Hassan Abubakar

As the World marks exclusive breastfeeding week, health communication giants, Development Communications Network (DevComs) have re-echoed the need for parents and expectant mothers to ensure they imbibe the culture of exclusive breastfeeding immediately after giving birth, calling on other relevant stakeholders not relent in creating more awareness on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the child, mother, father and the community at large.

The call was contained in press release signed and issued by DevCom’s Program Director, Akin Jimoh and made available to our correspondent in Bauchi.

Heralding the commencement of the global event, Jimoh explained that a mother and child friendly environment with a dedicated nursing room for nursing mothers can enhance the practice of breastfeeding in communities.

According to DevComs, 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (2018 NDHS) states that child mortality accounts for 52% of all under-five deaths while the child mortality rate is 69 deaths per 1,000 children surviving to age 12 months, while the overall under-five mortality rate is 132 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Also, 51 percent of all deaths among children under age five in Nigeria take place before a child’s first birthday, with 30% occurring during the first month of life just as poor infant feeding practices negatively affect the growth, health and development of children, and is a major cause of mortality in infants and young children.

The NDHS also states that only 29 percent of children are exclusively breastfed (EBF) from age zero to six months, leaving a deficit of 71 percent, being denied the right and by extension denied the right to survival.

The experts posit that, as the world marks the week , “it is imperative to note that breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy is important and has many advantages” .

DevCom further advocates that , “exclusive breastfeeding should be a shared responsibility at all levels. The government, the workplace, communities, families and all key stakeholders must make efforts to ensure needed structures and systems are in place to protect and support breastfeeding. This will aid the prevention of childhood illness and promote healthy growth and development.”.

The statement also stressed that, Breast milk is essential and has lots of benefits both to the mother and baby, it supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions. Breastfed babies have healthier weights as they grow, they score higher on IQ tests. Breast milk protects against allergies, sickness, infections and obesity and is easily digested.

“Also, research has shown that Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes and certain cancers such as breast cancer, they may find it easier to return to what they weighed before they got pregnant and it strengthens the bond with their children”, said DevCom.

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