“t is important to have policies that support breastfeeding, such as paid maternity leave for six months , as well as paid paternity leave, flexible return-to-work options, regular lactation breaks during working hours and adequate facilities that enable mothers to continue exclusively breastfeeding for six months, followed by age-appropriate complementary feeding while breastfeeding continues to two years and beyond.”
UNICEF: Seven of 10 infants not exclusively breastfed
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called for improved breastfeeding, as seven of 10 infants in the country, are not exclusively breastfed.It stressed breastfeeding is a pillar in safeguarding infants against life-threatening infections, supporting brain development, and reducing childhood and maternal illnesses.UNICEF urged governments, employers to ensure supportive breastfeeding environment for mums, including formal and informal sector.Country Representative, Cristian Munduate, spoke in a statement to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week.
“Presently, only seven of 36 states provide six months fully paid maternity leave, and only 34 per cent of children, aged 0 to six months are exclusively breastfed. Nigeria is far from reaching World Health Assembly’s 70 per cent target by 2030.Presently, women make up 20 million of the 46 million workforce in Nigeria; 95 per cent are in informal sector, while the formal sector only employs 5 per cent. Shockingly, only 9 per cent of organizations have a workplace breastfeeding policy, with only 1.5 per cent in the public sector. Women in the informal sector have nearly no support for breastfeeding.“In Nigeria, improved breastfeeding practices could save over 100,000 children’s lives each year, save US$22 million in health care treatment costs related to inadequate breastfeeding, and generate an additional US$21 billion for the economy over children’s productive years by increasing cognitive capacity and preventing premature mortality in the early years. There is evidence today that every 1,000 Naira invested in supporting breastfeeding can yield an estimated 35,000 Naira in economic returns for Nigeria.