By Asmau Ahmad
The Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), has urged the three tiers of government to extend maternity leave to six months to enable mothers exclusively breastfeed their children.
The Programme Manager, PACFaH/CS-SUNN, Mr. Okonkwo Sunday, made the observation at the commemoration of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, tagged: ‘Breastfeeding- A key to sustainable development,” in Abuja.
Mr. Sunday said that scaling up of breastfeeding practices to almostuniversal level was estimated to prevent 823,000 annual deaths of children below the age of two years in the country.
According to him, without the extension of maternity leave to six months and non-availability of creche in working places, the possibility of mothers imbibing by such practices is not achievable.
He called on the legislative arm of government to ensure inclusive fund for maternal, child and adolescent nutrition interventions, among others.
According to 2013 report of National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), 37 per cent of Nigerians under-five were stunted, 29 per cent underweight and 18 per cent wasted.
He identified full implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) 2014-2019, as providing a comprehensive and multi-sector approach to tackling the problem of malnutrition.
Sunday recommended other ways to scale up the nation’s nutrition status to include full and timely release of funds allocated for nutrition in this year’s budget at the national and focal states of Niger, Kaduna and Nassarawa.
“We urge the government to ensure adequate funding for nutrition interventions in the Ministries of Health; Agriculture, Education and at the national and state Primary Healthcare Development Agencies,” he said.