By Asmau Ahmad
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has urged mothers to give priority to maternal nutrition and first 1,000 days of a child’s life, describing it as golden window that must not be compromised.
Ada Ezeogu, UNICEF Nutritionist Specialist, made the call in an on the sideline of a Media Advocacy Meeting by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in collaboration with the UNICEF.
Ezeogu said that the practice was important as it would extensively put to a stop to forms of damage children encountered in their window age, (early life).
According to her, it is fundamental that children under two years are subjected to right foods and exclusive breast milk for six months and that a combination of other nutrient-rich foods thereafter must not be compromised.
“The first 1,000 days is a golden window of a child’s mental and physical developmental life, because it is at that time that the brain is being built, a time that the lifelong for healthy living is laid.
“There is, therefore, every need for a woman to be well nourished before, during and after pregnancy as a child depends more on the mother for nutrient requirements, hence early initiation of breastfeeding is advised.
“Exclusive breastfeeding helps the child to develop mentally and physically, it is evidence on the child’s intelligence and general activities, as it’s an opportunity to ensure that they have a good start in life.
“The lack of vital nutrients from the point where pregnancy is confirmed and in the early stage of a child’s life results to problems such as stunted growth and wasting which is irreversible,” she added.
The Nutritionist pointed out that foods play a great role in a child’s development in terms of their physical and mental health and therefore, required that parents must live up to such basic need to enable the child do well in all ramifications.
Also speaking, Aderonke Akinola-Akinwole, UNICEF Social Behavioral Change Specialist, spoke on the importance of parents taking the issue of their children’s first 1,000 days of life starting from conception to their second birthday very seriously.
Akinlola-Akinwole said that many parents, who should have had deep knowledge of what they were supposed to do would make their newborns stay alive, healthy and thrive in life, were not living up to the task.
“We encourage pregnant women to patronise the right health facilities where we have skilled healthcare givers including birth attendants, attend regular antenatal care and practise exclusive breastfeeding after delivery of their babies,
“And most importantly, present them for the immunisations as required.
According to her, the adverse consequences of not giving the right attention to children under two years affects their mental and body development and in turn, creates problems to the families and society at large.
She urged the media to take up the campaign and educate the public in their child-bearing ages to cultivate healthy practices and support for their newborn so that they can grow up healthy and do well in schools and also in life.
Earlier, the NOA Lagos Director, Dr Waheed Ishola, said that the agency and UNICEF believed so much in the role the media could play in bringing the issues raised at the programme to the front burner.
According to him, the media can highlight and educate stakeholders particularly the government, parents and the society at large, on the huge social-economic benefits of having healthy children in the country.