As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, the minister of state for health, Ekunmankama Joseph, has tasked employers on policies that support exclusive breastfeeding at work places.
The minister, who stated this on Tuesday during the Breastfeeding Breakfast Meeting with key nutrition stakeholders in Abuja, said integrating breastfeeding support into a workplace culture makes good business sense.
Also. the advocacy campaign and policy manager/survive, Save the Children International and chairman, Steering Committee, Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Ifedilichukwu Innocent, said employers should encourage exclusive breastfeeding by having corporate policies that support it, provide conducive area for breastfeeding activities and prioritise maternal and paternal rights.
Acknowledging that breastfeeding can suffer dramatically in an emergency situation, Ifedilichukwu stressed the need to set up mother and baby areas to ensure that mothers in refugee camps can receive advice, encouragement, and counseling on infant feeding practices.
Speaking further, Ifedilichukwu called for the full implementation of the multi-sectoral plan of action for food and nutrition as well as strengthening efforts to perfect the creation of nutrition department and budget lines for nutrition activities in line ministries.
He also stressed the need for corporate policies that support exclusive breastfeeding at workplaces, saying “Employers should encourage exclusive breastfeeding by having corporate policies that support it, provide conducive area for breastfeeding activities and prioritise maternal and paternal rights.
The minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the theme for this year’s celebration, “Step up for Breastfeeding: Educate and Support” focuses on strengthening the capacity of actors that are involved in the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding across different levels of society.
“These actors include governments, health systems, workplaces and communities. Over the years, evidence has shown that women need effective support –both to initiate and sustain breastfeeding.” However, many of the actors lack the necessary knowledge, attitudes and skills to support these women. Thus, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of all actors across the different levels to protect, promote and support breastfeeding,” he said.
Identifying breastfeeding as the foundation of child survival, health, growth and development, the minister, who was represented by the minister of state for health, Ekunmankama Joseph, said the Federal Ministry of Health, through the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and other stakeholders will continue to enforce the Code for the marketing of Breast milk Substitutes (BMS) to address threats which unwholesome marketing poses to optimal breastfeeding practice in Nigeria.