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Foundation seeks mandatory nationwide six-month maternity leave

By Barbara Negbejie
22 March 2022   |   3:36 am
Disturbed that only four states – Lagos, Ekiti, Kaduna and Oyo – had six-month maternity leave policy in place, a group, Ask The Paediatricians Foundation, has called on the Federal Government to lead by example by implementing..

Disturbed that only four states – Lagos, Ekiti, Kaduna and Oyo – had six-month maternity leave policy in place, a group, Ask The Paediatricians Foundation, has called on the Federal Government to lead by example by implementing the programme in Abuja.
 
In a petition to get attention of policy makers, it argued that nursing mothers needed sufficient time to care for and breastfeed their babies for six months exclusively, in addition to heal after the stress of childbirth.
 
The group, in the appeal, which has garnered 30,216 signatories of the expected 35,000, urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the state governors to do the needful.

 
The foundation, which said it had embarked on campaigns in individual states yet to adopt the policy, asked the Presidency to approve the vacation for mothers in the federal civil service.
 
It said: “We are specifically asking for this policy to be implemented for Federal Government staff.
 
“The Federal Government sets a good example to states and the private sector by leading with this policy.”

“At Ask The Paediatricians Foundation, we’re regularly bombarded with questions from anxious mothers, who want to know how to care for their babies and feed them as they resume work soon.
 
“They say they cannot continue exclusive breastfeeding for six months because they are about to go back to work. We field these questions on our Facebook group from mothers whose babies are as young as five-week old.
 
“This is a serious issue as the well-being of these children is at great risk and explains why the exclusive breastfeeding rate for the country was a mere 29 per cent in 2018.
 
The foundation went on: “Nigeria recorded the highest number of death of children under the age of five in 2019. About one million Nigerian children were lost to preventable and treatable conditions.

“One of the well-known child survival strategies that can reduce more than 75 per cent of these deaths is breastfeeding.
   
“While, World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) recommend that all babies exclusively be breastfed in the first six months, working mothers in Nigeria have to go back to work too early and cannot complete the recommended six months of exclusive breastfeeding.
   
“If we as a nation must reduce the high rate of death of children under the age of one, we must be serious about ensuring mothers are breastfeeding exclusively.

“Mothers need sufficient time to heal after the stress of childbirth and to exclusively breastfeed their babies for six months, which translates to benefits for the children and the family, the state, and the nation.

“We, as a nation, must invest in the health of our mothers and the children who are our future. They guarantee the continuity of our nations.”

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