Boosting maternal, child nutrition
DETERMINED to ensure maternal and child survival in the country, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Nestle Nigeria PLC have joined forces to improve mother and infant nutrition for the first one thousands days of life.
The group, on Tuesday, in Lagos, at a symposium on maternal and child nutrition to commemorate the annual world breastfeeding week said there is window of opportunity in the first one thousand days of life to boost health and survival of babies and their mothers.
The theme of the symposium is “Good Nutrition for Mummy and Baby. Head of Nutrition, FMoH, Dr. Chris Isokpunwu, the immediate past President of Dietitians Association of Nigeria (DAN), Dr. Chika Ndiokwelu, and the Executive Manager, Stakeholders’ Relations, of Nestle Nigeria, Mrs. Marie Owoniyi where present at the programme.
Isokpunwu disclosed that the Federal Government on Monday, August 3, 2015 launched the National Nutrition Green Ribbon Campaign, with the focus of campaigning for exclusive breastfeeding and the four-star diet plan, which intends is to complement breastfeeding for adequate nutrients for babies after the six month of exclusive breastfeeding.
Isokpunwu said, in Nigeria, malnutrition accounts for more than half of all the under five year old deaths, hence “it is therefore important that essential nutritional intervention reach mothers and babies on time if we must avert some of the deaths.”
He further said as part of government intervention, the community management of agricultural humanitarian programme treats children who are acutely malnourished and those who cannot access such are treated in health facilities.
Isokpunwa stressed on the fact that Human Immune-deficiency Virus (HIV) positive mothers who are on the anti retroviral therapy can as well practice exclusive breastfeeding without harm to their babies Dr. Folake Samuel of the Department of Human Nutrition of University of Ibadan, Oyo State, also said that good nutrition and breastfeeding helps the cognitive development of the child because the breast milk contains all the needed nutrients for the baby.
She added, nutrition during pregnancies is key, as 70 percent of the child’s brain develops in the womb. Samuel explained that the practice of exclusive breastfeeding is often times mistaken as breastfeeding for six months, but rather it is only breastfeeding alone without the mixture of anything for that duration.
Speaking on how the symposium will help reduce maternal mortality in Nigeria, Owoniyi told The Guardian that with the number of participant and the knowledge impacted on people, as well as the appropriate organizations present at the symposium, she is sure the information would get to the grassroots.
Ndiokwelu, in her address on the early nutrition and long term health, said that children are prone to malnutrition if proper diet and early nutrition is absent and once malnutrition sets in, the consequences becomes irreversible after this period in the child’s life. “The seed of chronic illness like diabetes, heart diseases obesity, etc. are laid in the womb”, this she attributed to the practice of mothers regarding poor nutrition as well as dietary factors in pregnant and lactating mothers, for it determines the future well being of the child,” she noted.
Owoniyi revealed that a nursing baby room has been provided at Nestle Nigeria head office to encourage exclusive breastfeeding among female workers during working hours and also planning to establish same in all of its offices with more than fifty staff strength.
She added that the poor cycle of nutrition goes from generation to generation, and also report has it that the percentage of exclusive breastfeeding has increased to 63 per cent in Ghana and 17 per cent in Nigeria over the years, the gap so obvious, She appealed to government to make exclusive breastfeeding a top priority and also urged government at various levels to emulate Lagos state to extend maternity leaves to six months to encourage exclusive breastfeeding.
As part of creating shared value and meeting commitment, Mrs. C.E Emma Nwachukwu from the Nestle Nutrition Institution in Africa, Anglophone CWAR, said farmers all over the country have been empowered to boost production of quality raw material in compliance to Nestle policies.
According to her, the emission rate has reduced to 26 per cent to reduce pollution in the country. Nestle Nigeria remains one of the key manufacturer of breastfeeding supplements as complied by the World Health Organization.