2020 World Breastfeeding Week Activities in Delta End

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By Omon-Julius Onabu

Activities marking the 2020 World Breastfeeding Week in Delta State came to a close yesterday with the state government and other stakeholders restating their determination to double efforts at bridging the gap towards meeting the 2025 Global Targets of 50 percent breastfeeding rate.

The Delta State Government was passionately monitoring progress arising from its partnership with the World Health Organization and UNICEF, which endorsed the global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye said in Asaba on activities to mark the Week.

Dr. Ononye underscored the commencement of the establishment of Breastfeeding Support Groups in the 25 local government areas and wards of the state, which is designed to protect and promote women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling across the state.

The initiative is being undertaken through the Delta Primary Healthcare Development Agency in collaboration with Partner Agencies, the commissioner disclosed.

He advised women, including nursing mothers and care-givers, to take advantage of the initiative of the state government by accessing the services of the breastfeeding support as they become functional.

Dr Ononye said, “Though we are presently in a pandemic, let us remember that in our survival instinct the most vulnerable population, especially women and children deserve attention and a high priority given to them in the distribution of resources.

“We are encouraged to promote breastfeeding all of the time: institutions, organizations, families and individuals are enjoined to implement the breast feeding policy as adapted by the Delta State in line with the Global Guidelines.” He pointed out that though the breastfeeding target was to scale-up the rate of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months to at least 50%, Delta State Government targets 80% in the first instance.

“The World Breastfeeding Week reminds us of the need to promote, protect and support breastfeeding practices in order to adequately develop the young, who are the leaders of tomorrow, for a better and productive adulthood.

“Breastfeeding should be initiated as early as the first hour of birth and continued to the second year of life as the early initiation of unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production to sustain the infants, leads to 87% preventable deaths in infants younger than six months and also ensures quicker recovery from childhood illnesses.”

He further noted: “Delta State has adopted the National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding, which describes exclusive breastfeeding as giving infants only breast milk in the first six months of life; no other liquids, drinks, semi-solids or solids; and, not even water except oral rehydration solution or drops/ syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines as prescribed by the physician.

“In line with the national policy, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond to meet their evolving nutritional requirements.

“The National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS 2018) revealed that Delta State breastfeeding rates for children 0-23 months of age were 94% for ever being breastfed; 49% for being breastfed within the first hour birth; 80% for being breastfed within the first day of birth.

“However, Delta State’s 49% breastfeeding rate within the first hour of birth is still lower than the 2025 Global Target of 50% hence the urgent need to double efforts to bridge the gap.”

In a related development, the Asaba chapter of the Department of Paediatrics in collaboration with the Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Medical Centre (FMC) called on members of the public to adhere strictly to the breastfeeding protocols as prescribed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The doctors officially commenced the exercise with an Awareness Rally in the capital city on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, followed by a Radio Talkshow on Wednesday, 5th August and a TV Presentation/Zoom Lecture on Thursday 6th August.

The programme was coordinated by the publicity committee of the local Association of Resident Doctors, which the PRO and head of the committee, Dr Awunor Alexander Chidubem, said was “for the graphic understanding of the importance and benefits of breastfeeding to a child and his mother”; it was capped with a Prize Giving Baby Show on the final day.

Earlier on Wednesday, the chairperson of the state chapter of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Comrade Pat Gbemudu, during a live programme on the Voice of Delta FM Asaba, appealed to the Delta State Government to create “innovative solutions that would ensure that nursing women’s access to skilled breastfeeding counselling services is not disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is, “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet”, and various activities to mark the Week in Delta State kicked off on 1st August, 2020 and rounded off on Friday 7th August, 2020.
The Last Secret of Prayer Invokes Glory of God
Oluwaseyi Adewuyi

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