By Abiemwense Moru
The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with stakeholders, on Tuesday in Abuja,
made commitments to support the establishment of safe breastfeeding spaces for women at workplaces and public places.
The commitments were made at a stakeholders breakfast meeting on breastfeeding-friendly work/public places as
part of activities to mark the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WBW is annually marked from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 around the world
to promote and protect mothers to optimally breastfeed babies for a healthy mother and child.NAN also reports that WBW started with a declaration to encourage breastfeeding and improve infant health around the world
in August 1990 by government policymakers, WHO, UNICEF and other stakeholders to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.In 1991, the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) was formed to act on the 1990 Declaration, and as part of the action
plan, WABA introduced the concept of a globally integrated breastfeeding strategy, and later, the idea of celebrating
it for one day turned into a week and came to be known as WBW.
The first WBW was celebrated in 1992. Now, it is celebrated in more than 100 countries across the globe.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Step up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support”, focusing on strengthening the capacity of
actors in the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding across different levels of society.
The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Joseph Ekumankama, therefore, said breastfeeding support was crucial as it provided
immense nutritional and emotional benefits to both mothers and children.
Ekumankama said all actors, including government, health systems, workplaces, religious institutions and communities, must
protect, promote and support breastfeeding across different levels of the society.He added that although breastfeeding is natural, evidence had showed that women needed effective support to initiate and
sustain breastfeeding, stressing that “integrating breastfeeding support into workplace culture makes good business sense.”He said breastfed babies have stronger immunity, reduced risk of infections and many childhood illnesses with long-term health benefits.“It can even reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol
and lessens the severity of post-partum depression,” he added.Mrs Monilola Udoh, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, said breastfeeding is essential in the first
six months of every child’s life and highly beneficial to nursing mothers.She, therefore, made a commitment to have a Creche in the ministry for every breastfeeding worker and urged other employers to do same.A Consultant and Lead Speaker, Dr Mohammed Liman, said breastfeeding which has a lot of benefits for both child and mother
should be taken seriously, with support from everyone.Accordimg to him, breastfeeding substantially improves the health of a mother and child, reduces the frequency or severity of common childhood illness.“It reduces healthcare cost, prevents non-communible diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and serves as
form of birth spacing method for some women.”Liman also encouraged employers to increase the retention of female workers, saying the country must increase its Gross Domestic Products
and decrease the death of women and children.Liman explained that breastfeeding increased physical and emotional bonding between mothers and children “and
gives protection against breast and cervical cancer, and might protect against ovarian cancer and Type 2 diabetes.”He said that with adequate scaling up of breastfeeding to recommended levels, cases of breast cancer could be prevented. (NAN)