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Breastfeeding is the Right of Every Child in Nigeria

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The WHO and UNICEF recommends early initiation of breastfeeding within 1 hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life; and introduction of nutritionally-adequate and safe complementary (solid) foods at 6 months together with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond (WHO, 2016). This allows infants and young children to meet evolving nutritional requirements necessary for optimal growth, development and good health.

In 1994, both Ghana and Nigeria had both exclusive breastfeeding rates of 7.4, but by 2013 Ghana increased to 63 per cent.

In Nigeria, it is disheartening to know that according to the 2014 National Nutrition and Health Survey, only 25 per cent of mothers exclusively breastfed from 0-6 months of age.

The lack of progress in exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria denies millions of newborns in Nigeria the benefits of breast milk. Research has shown that an exclusively breastfed child is 14 times less likely to die in the first six months than a non-breastfed child and that breastfeeding drastically reduces deaths from acute respiratory infection and diarrhea; two major child killer diseases.

Presently, there is a large number of women in the workforce due to the poor economic status of the country and their willingness to to practice exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months is hindered as a result of a minimal maternity leave of absence (3 months).

"Breastfeeding is not only the cornerstone of a child's healthy development; it is also the foundation of a country's development." - UNICEF & WHO

Therefore, we advocate for an increase in the maternity leave of women in both formal and informal sectors to 6 months and urge the Government of Nigeria to include a budget line for nutrition in the health sector budget.

It really does take the whole village to make a super baby!!!

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