Exclusive Breastfeeding To Save 1.5m Lives Yearly –Adeshina


Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina has averred that exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child could save an estimated 1.5 million lives each year according to research.


Adeshina, who disclosed this today at a press briefing to commemorate this year’s breastfeeding week celebration in Lagos, stated that breastfeeding remains a high impact intervention for ensuring the survival, adequate growth and development of the child as ample evidence supports breast feeding as the healthiest and most reliable nutrition for babies’ survival.


Said she, “breast milk alone is the ideal nourishment for infants for the first six months of life as it contains all nutrients, antibodies, hormones and antioxidants and other factors an infant needs to thrive. Research also has it that breast milk protects babies from diarrheoa and acute respiratory infections, stimulates their immune system and response to other diseases and to vaccination. It also promotes love and bond between mother and child which in turn improves the psychological wellbeing of the baby,” she explained.


Adeshina stressed that the empowerment of women in order to breastfeed their babies appropriately is an important element in the battle against infant and young child mortality and morbidity, adding that the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘talk to me: breastfeeding a 3D experience’ emphasizes promoting communication of breastfeeding issues at various levels by using various communication strategies in strengthening breastfeeding practice and principles among the populace.


She urged husbands, fathers, parents-in-law, family members and the community at large to encourage women of child bearing age to initiate and sustain breastfeeding in their infants for the prescribed duration just as she stressed the importance of mothers to attend clinics regularly during which health education on nutrition including breastfeeding will be provided.


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The Special Adviser said various activities planned by the government to ensure the success of this year’s celebration include family enlightenment breastfeeding seminar for young couples, grandparents, adolescents, health workers, youth corps members, selected secondary school students and women of child bearing age.


According to her, other activities include the production and distribution of information, education and enlightenment materials on breastfeeding; training of nutrition promoters to enhance knowledge of key breastfeeding message in schools, markets and religious centres; erection of billboards on key messages on breastfeeding; and production and airing of jingles on breastfeeding messages.


“During the week-long celebration, maternal and child survival services and interventions will be provided at all primary health care facilities across the local government and local council development areas. These shall include counselling on exclusive breastfeeding, vitamin A administration, appropriate complementary feeding, immunization, vaccination of pregnant women with tetanus toxoid and health education on key household practices,” Adeshina explained.


She urged mothers and caregivers to take advantage of the opportunity offered by the breastfeeding week to rededicate themselves and remain fully committed to the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life on one hand and the continuous breastfeeding with complementary feeding from six months until the child is two years or beyond.


“I make bold to state that every mother and caregiver who is committed to, as well as support, the early initiation of breastfeeding exclusively and continuous breastfeeding of a child till two years and beyond, which is a standard of the World Health Organization, is an asset to the state and the nation”, Dr. Adeshina said.

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