Private healthcare providers, TBAs urged to intensify breastfeeding awareness
Towards reducing the high rate of infant deaths in Nigeria, healthcare providers in the private sector and Traditional Birth Attendants(TBAs) in Lagos State, have been charged to give adequate attention to issues of breastfeeding by properly educating pregnant women and lactating mothers, who patronise their facilities of its importance in child survival and brain development.
The charge was given by nutrition experts at a One-Day Sensitization Workshop in Lagos recently, organised by Alive & Thrive (A & T), a non-governmental organisation, in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Health to mark the 2017 World Breastfeeding Week. It has the theme: “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together.”
They noted that breastfeeding helps provide babies with the healthiest start to life and that breastfeeding also acts as the child’s first vaccine by providing antibodies.
The nutritionists said the 18 percent exclusive breastfeeding rate in the country and the 28 per cent rate in Lagos were totally unacceptable when compared with Ghana that had achieved close to 70 per cent, stressing that it would be difficult for Nigeria to achieve the SDGs by 2030 if adequate attention are not given to child survival strategies like exclusive breastfeeding.
In her welcome address, Director, Family Health & Nutrition in the ministry, Dr. Folashade Oludara ,said the workshop was aimed at improving exclusive breastfeeding practices in the state through awareness creation among private healthcare providers and traditional birth attendants.
Oludara, who was represented by Dr. Eniosho Masidat, said the private sector, as well TBAs have a key role to play when it comes to breastfeeding because a large chunk of mothers patronise them and therefore, serve as effective channel to pass the message of importance of exclusive breastfeeding to babies and their mothers so as to increase the practice in the state.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),at least 103,742 children died in Nigeria annually as a result of inadequate breastfeeding.
To Dr. Uche Ralph-Opara from Alive & Thrive, both the private healthcare providers and the TBAs should become champions of breastfeeding.
Ralph-Opara, who represented the Project Director of the NGO, Mr. Victor Ogbodo, said: “We would like you to walk out of this door breastfeeding champions at the end of the day; spreading the message on exclusive breastfeeding and why every mother should key into it. Encourage women to breastfeed even when they found it inconveniencing, encourage them to keep breast feeding and not to look for the alternative.”
She revealed that Alive & Thrive is applying innovative and proven approaches to improve infant and young child feeding practices in Nigeria.
On her part, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Child Health Advocacy Initiative, (CHAI), Mrs. Lola Alonge, said that government cannot do it alone since breastfeeding statistics from Lagos and Nigeria at large is still very low.
She said: “We can sustain breastfeeding together starting from the family, community, health workers and employers. “