The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) reported that no fewer than 800,000 infants die annually around the world from poor breastfeeding practices.
This was disclosed by UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Rivers Field office, Ngozi Onuora, at a one-day multi-media zonal dialogue, which was organised by UNICEF with supports from Akwa Ibom and Abia states broadcasting Cooperation, and held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state to celebrate this year’s World breastfeeding week, held between August 1 and 7 yearly.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Protect breastfeeding: a shared responsibility”, according to her is meant to sensitise families, stakeholders and the general public on their roles and responsibilities in the protection, support and promotion of breastfeeding practices in the Southsouth zone, Nigeria and the world.
“Breastfeeding is a powerful life saver and a critical to the long time wellbeing of the mother and child. Unfortunately, inspite of the numerous benefits, a great number of mothers in the world do not optimally breastfed their children; a recent report estimated the percentage of infants who are exclusively breastfed globally to between 38 and 41%, whereas, sub-optimal breastfeeding practices contributes to almost 800, 000 death of children every year,” she said.
In her keynote lecture entitled, “Implications of breastfeeding advocacy initiatives for 2021 world breastfeeding theme”, Onuora further noted some of the critical gains of breastfeeding for the new born and the mother.
She said, “When a mother has a baby and the child seems not to respond to life immediately but shows signs of life, the moment the mother initiates the close body contact with the baby, by bringing him, her close to the breast, the child recovers immediately.
“In the same vain, when a mother is at the verge of suffering from excessive bleeding after child birth initiates breastfeeding, the suck of the baby will release cause release of a hormone would contract the womb that would stop her from suffering from bleeding.
“Breastfeeding is a newborn’s first immunisation, when a child takes the milk that comes in the first few days of birth, it clears the gut of the child, protects them from infection and prepares them to grow.”
The Director Community Health, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Health, Margret Etim at the event, noted that part of the reasons for the programme is to discuss on ways to reduce child mortality and morbidity, and promote the health and wellbeing of the mother, as enshrined in the Millennium development goals(MDGs) four and five.
Etim further reiterated the many benefits of breastfeeding, noting that all stakeholders must work hard to ensuring that nursing mothers imbibe the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for at least in the first six months of the child’s life.