By Abujah Racheal
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), has advised nursing mothers to feed their babies with breast milk for six-months to avoid malnutrition.
Dr Salma Kolo, Director of Family Health, FMoH, made the call at a media parley on Severe Acute Malnutrition, (SAM), organised by the International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH), in Abuja.
He called on mothers not to jettison the first milk called colostrum to feed their babies.
“It is made in small amounts and is a rich source of immune protective factors and developmental factors. It’s perfect for whatever gestational age a baby is born.
“If your baby is premature, it will give him/her extra protection.
“Breast milk meets the need of your child. It continues to provide excellent nutrition, immune and other health and emotional benefits for whatever age your child is,” she explained.
Kolo said that it was alarming, the rate at which children under five years of age were suffering from the physical consequences of poor diets.
She said that too many children were not eating healthy foods.
“Across the country, stunting, wasting and obesity affect the same communities, sometimes the same household.
“For many families living in poverty, daily nutritious meals remain either unaffordable or inaccessible,” she said.
She warned that poor eating and feeding practices start from the earliest days of a child’s life.
“Breastfeeding can save lives; but increasing number of children are fed infant formula.
“Then, as children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around the six-month mark, too many children are introduced to the wrong kind of diet,” she explained.
She said that improving child nutrition was important to prevent stunting and poor productivity later in life.
“To this end, commitment from all, including government at all levels along the food value chain is crucial in improving the nutritional status and health of all Nigerians and their productivity,” she said.
Dr Nihinlola Mabogunje, a paediatrician expert, said there was strong evidence that breastfeeding protected against breast cancer in the mother and promoted healthy growth in the infant.
“Evidence on cancer and other diseases shows that sustained exclusive breastfeeding is protective for the mother as well as the child lactation.
“Breastfeeding protects children against overweight and obesity, as well as against those cancers for which weight gain, overweight and obesity are caused,” Mabogunje said.
Mrs Moji Makanjuola, Executive Director, ISMPH, charged media practitioners to investigate the stage of crèche in workplaces for mothers.
Makanjuola said that crèches were usually regulated to be a safe place for the child.
“A crèche is less expensive than an au pair. High-quality child care keeps children safe and healthy,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Programme Director, ISMPH, Mr Solomon Dogo, called on media practitioners to shape public views through the media representation mechanisms.
Dogo said that they should set agenda for sustainable empowerment of vulnerable women across the country.
He urged them to also utilise the media’s influence to set the issue of malnutrition on the front burner of engagements in the build-up to 2023 general elections.
“Use existing media networks to generate public awareness for the project, high visibility and high impact for the intervention,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that SAM, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), is defined as very low weight for height and is caused by a significant imbalance between nutritional intake and individual needs.
Nigeria ranks number one in Africa and number two in the world in terms of malnourished children.
Report has it that an estimated 2 million Children in Nigeria suffer from SAM and only two out of every ten children affected are currently reached with treatment.
The National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 showed that seven per cent of Children are wasted in Nigeria and 3.4 per cent in the FCT. (NAN)