As part of its activities to mark the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), The Well Being Foundation Africa (WBFA) visited communities in the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos, Kwara and Osun states to sensitize women and men especially, on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding to the new-born, mother and father.
The Founder of the WBFA, Toyin Ojora Saraki noted that her organization has increased its programmatic focus and social behavioural change advocacy and actions to engage husbands, and male community leaders, increasing their understanding of the benefits of early and exclusive breastfeeding.
“We also state the importance of sanitation and hygiene, from the cradle to age. I expect that with these improved inter-personal communication skills, men will better support new mothers in nourishing and nurturing their babies, strengthen household understanding, and cascade a lowering of sexual and gender based violence. “
“Together with our new Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Lactation program, I am confident that the WBFA’s concrete steps to improve Maternal Infant And Young Child Feeding and Nutrition in Nigeria, will offer marked results in preventing malnutrition, from the most fragile infant to the healthy new-born and stronger child”.
The Foundation emphasized that exclusive breastfeeding provides the new-born child with critical nutrients necessary for healthy development and protects against deadly diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and ear infections.
“Exclusive breastfeeding for mothers would ensure the return to pre-pregnancy size of the mother’s uterus, and reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancers. We also informed men that adhering to exclusive breastfeeding is cost-effective, as research has shown that the total annual global cost of not breastfeeding ranges from $257 billion to $341 billion, excluding economic costs of increased household caregiving time, as well as treatment costs related to other diseases caused by not practicing exclusive breastfeeding according to recommendations.”
State Coordinator for WBFA in Abuja, Dr Otun Adewale who led the team said “Our internal data had shown that despite the health and financial benefits to the male folk especially fathers of new-borns, male involvement in the campaign for exclusive breastfeeding is awfully low. This informed our approach in the field exercise we took to these communities.
“Statistics show that 97% of children are actually breastfed in Nigeria but only 29% are exclusively breastfed. We have also noticed that socio-cultural factors come into play to reduce this 29%, so the target is to have at least 50% of exclusively breastfed children in Nigeria by 2030”.
On the effect of non-exclusive breastfeeding on the environment, Adewale emphasized that Nigeria being responsible for nearly 68% of non degradable waste in Sub-Saharan Africa, could benefit significantly from exclusive breastfeeding.
“The planet is degrading faster by the day and scientists have reported that the major cause of this degradation is solid waste. In Sub-Saharan Africa, we have about 62million tons of waste generated which is significant and unfortunately, Nigeria actually accounts for 42million tons of this waste, that is more than 60%. This is distorting our ecosystem, distorting our environment and degrading the planet as a whole.
“Exclusive breastfeeding is about the baby suckling from the mother’s breast, no need of cups or any other man-made tools, but breastmilk substitutes most times require these things. By 2030 importation of baby feed or substitute would be worth about N200billion which translates roughly to 100million cans of baby feed.
“These baby feed components are metal cans, aluminium foils, plastic spoons for scooping, etc. All these, after use, would be discarded somewhere mostly leading to environmental pollution. We can avoid all these by simply exclusively breastfeeding our children.”
In the FCT, WBFA took its comprehensive sensitization exercise to the people of Ushafa, Dafa and Yangoji communities, highlighting the positive impacts of exclusive breastfeeding on the healthy development of the child, the short- and long-term health benefits for the mother, the health and financial benefits for the father, as well as its environmental benefits.