By Asmau Ahmad
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) has advised nursing mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding to improve the health status of their newborns.
The North West Director of the agency, Mrs Josephine Dayilim, gave the advice at a one-day workshop on the ban on promotion of breast milk substitutes on Friday in Kaduna.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have recommended that children initiate breastfeeding within the first hour of birth and be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life – meaning no other foods or liquids are provided, including water.
The workshop was organised by NAFDAC, in collaboration with the Carelink Resource Foundation.
Dayilim, represented by Rahila Maishanu, NAFDAC Desk Officer in charge of breast milk substitutes in Kaduna, expressed the need for stakeholders to educate nursing mothers to maintain exclusive breastfeeding.
She said that nursing mothers needed to be sensitised on the dangers involved in using breast milk substitutes on their newborns.
Dayilim said that there was a code that expressly banned the inappropriate marketing and advertising of breast milk substitutes.
She said that the code also banned the promotion of such products.
Dayilim called on stakeholders to adhere to the code, while urging them to also step down the initiative to their communities.
She appreciated their efforts towards sensitising the public on the importance of embracing exclusive breastfeeding.
Participants at the workshop cut across various organisations, such as National Union of Road Transport Workers, traditional leaders and health workers, among others.
The participants promised to adhere to the code and implement it in their respective domains.
According to the WHO, breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. The global health body noted that women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
“Breast milk is the ideal food for infants. It is safe, clean and contains antibodies which help protect against many common childhood illnesses.
“Breast milk provides all the energy and nutrients that the infant needs for the first months of life, and it continues to provide up to half or more of a child’s nutritional needs during the second half of the first year, and up to one third during the second year of life”, WHO said.
It, however, said inappropriate marketing of breast-milk substitutes, continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and duration worldwide.