The Kogi State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Zakari Alhaji Usman has said that 68% infants in Kogi State are denied the aforementioned benefits of breastmilk in their formative years.
He made this known on Monday during a press briefing to mark World breastfeeding week at the Ministry of Health conference hall, Lokoja.
This year’s theme is tagged: Step up for breastfeeding: Educate and Support cannot be more timely as this is in consonance with the vision of the Nutrition department of our health sector.
He mentioned that over One thousand and five Hundred volunteers are also on the field educating women on the benefits of breastmilk and on other nutrition and health related issues.
According to him, in Nigeria, the exclusive breastfeeding rate is 29% (NNHS:2018) while in Kogi State, it is 32%. This means, over 70% of infants in Nigeria and 68% infants in Kogi State are denied the aforementioned benefits of breastmilk in their formative years.
He said breast milk is the most important diet for a child from birth to two years, while it is important to exclusively breastfeed a child for the first six months of life.
“Studies have shown that children who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life are less likely to suffer from diarrhoea diseases such as gastroenteritis, cold, flu, ear and chest infection.
“Compared to infants fed with formula, exclusively breast-fed babies are half as likely to be victims of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDs or Cot death). Breastmilk is a super diet that is good and aids proper brain development.
He appreciate the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello for his practical demonstration of political and financial commitments to health issues which has put the state in a good stead amongst committee of States in the Federation.
“His Excellency has practically demonstrated his love for the women and Children of Kogi State by ensuring Kogi is one of the twelve states who entered into a covenant with the World Bank to improve nutrition of her citizens through the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria Project, establishing budget lines for nutrition in various ministries including but not limited to ministries of Agriculture, Health and Women Affairs.
The Commissioner noted that the Ministry, in collaboration with State Committee on Food and Nutrition will endeavour to pursue the establishment of creches in workplace in Kogi State to ease the burden of working-class mothers in easily giving their babies breastmilk.
“This administration will encourage inter sectorial collaboration to ensure that all hands are on deck to improve the health indices of our State. We therefore thank our partners, especially Save the Children International and African Youth Growth Foundation who joined hands with us to make this year’s World Breastfeeding Week a reality.