By Asma’u Ahmad
The Nigeria’s Federal Government has reiterated its commitment toward achieving 100 per cent exclusive breastfeeding by 2025 in line with global target on Food and Nutrition Policy.
Assistant Director, Nutrition Division, Family Health Department at the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Chimay Thompson, gave the assurance in an interview with newsmen in Abuja. She said that the government had put in place policies and regulations that would promote exclusive breastfeeding.
“Nigeria can get up to 100 per cent based on Food and Nutrition Policy, by 2025. Nigeria is a signatory to UN policies, including Global Strategy on Infant and Young Child feeding as well as the International Regulation Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitute.
“We have the National Policy on Food and Nutrition which was revised in 2016 and launched by the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari, who became the National Nutrition Ambassador. “In 2017, the Minister of Health launched the National Social and
Behavioural Change Communication Strategy, which enabled us to communicate with different communities to know factors that are militating against optimal breastfeeding practices.
“All these have been put in place to create an enabling environment and to develop strategies that will support and encourage our mothers to practise exclusive breastfeeding optimally,” she said.
Mrs Thompson said that the ministry would intensify campaign on exclusive breastfeeding and young child feeding practices in health facilities, communities and workplaces as well as train healthcare professionals.
She said that returning to work before six months was a key barrier to exclusive breastfeeding while limited or nonexistent maternity protection policies prevented many women from having time and space to breastfeed exclusively. Thompson said that many women in Nigeria were part of labour force, with a substantial number in formal workforce.
“The ministry has helped to increase maternity leave for public servants from 12 weeks to 16 weeks; the Minister of Labour and Employment, according to Abuja Breastfeeding Declaration, is considering an increase to 18 weeks. “Community Infant and Young Child Feeding Guideline is available as health workers have been trained to promote and support universal breastfeeding coverage.
“This commences with early initiation of breast milk within one hour of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding till six months and then continued breastfeeding with complementary feeding till two years. “The ministry has also launched Mobile Nutrition Programme through which messages are sent on phones and social platforms where people can communicate and have access to vital information on breastfeeding and nutrition.
“The government has also collaborated with th5s movie industry to promote exclusive breastfeeding, with various jingles on breastfeeding translated in different languages across the country,” she said.