Lagos State Government has advocated the sustenance of breastfeeding by strengthening the capacity of stakeholders, including policymakers, healthcare providers and community influencers, to promote and support the practice across different levels of society.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, spoke at a Press Briefing organised to outline planned activities of the State Government to commemorate the Y2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), noting that the government would continue to inform, educate and empower sector players to provide and sustain breastfeeding-friendly environments.
He said: “The theme for the Year 2022 World Breastfeeding Week, ‘Step Up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support’, was carefully selected as it focuses on strengthening the capacity to protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of society. These actors make up the warm chain of breastfeeding support, and they include policymakers, healthcare providers and influencers in communities”.
The Permanent Secretary explained that exclusive breastfeeding must be undertaken from the first hour of birth up to six months of life and sustained for up to two years of age, just as complimentary feeding must commence from six months of age for optimal growth and development.
Dr. Ogboye outlined some of the strategies for creating a breastfeeding-friendly environment such as increasing public awareness of the importance of exclusive and continued breastfeeding with complementary feeding, as well as ensuring that caregivers are conversant with information to enlighten patients at all healthcare service delivery points, among other initiatives of the Lagos State Government.
“Breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies. Breast milk is readily available, pure, safe and in the right mixture that is adequate for babies”, he said.
Noting that exclusive breastfeeding protects babies from severe complications arising from gastro-enteritis, pneumonia and other childhood killer diseases, the Permanent Secretary revealed that about 60% of under-five mortalities are largely due to malnutrition caused by poor breastfeeding practices and inadequate complementary feeding.
Speaking in the same vein, the Director of Family Health and Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Folashade Oludara, tasked nursing and breastfeeding mothers to adopt proper positioning and attachment of the child when breastfeeding to allow for comfortability and prevent irritability.
“I want to encourage our nursing and breastfeeding mothers to always bring the baby to the breast and let them latch themselves. It is a common practice to lean the breast forward into the baby’s mouth; this is wrong and should be avoided, as this can lead to poor attachment. Your baby needs to get a big mouthful of breast. Placing your baby with their nose level with your nipple will encourage them to open their mouth wide and attach to the breast well”, she said.
Also present at the event were the representative of the Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Mrs. Simisola Otuyalo; Chairperson of Lagos State Chapter of Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), Mrs. Cecilia Penny; and State Coordinator of the Lagos State Chapter of Civil Society Scaling Nutrition in Nigeria, Adebayo Adeyelu, amongst others.