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Nigeria loses $21b yearly by not investing in breastfeeding – UNICEF


• Low Exclusive Breastfeeding Dangerous To IDPs’ Infants
By not investing in exclusive breastfeeding, Nigeria loses $21b per year or 4.1 per cent of its gross national income, the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has said.

Mrs. Ada Ezeogu, a UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, made this known at a media dialogue on breastfeeding organised by Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, sponsored by UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Ibadan.

She said the summation of low cognitive development, low IQ and health costs due to inadequate breastfeeding translated to $21b economic loss.

“Based on UNICEF fact sheet, the low rate of Exclusive Breastfeeding (EBF) leads to 103,742 child’s deaths and robs 5. 4 million children yearly of essential nutrition required to develop properly. Delaying breastfeeding for two to 23 hours after birth increases the risk of dying within 28 days of a baby’s life by 40 per cent,” Ezeogu said.

According to her, this has contributed to the country’s problem of chronic malnutrition, resulting to the current 11 million malnourished under-five children.

Also, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Communication Specialist, said the dialogue was aimed at partnering with the media to increase rate of EBF in the country

In his remarks, Mr. Tejinder Sadhu, Chief of Field Office UNICEF, Akure, said.

“Breastfeeding is not one woman’s job. Mothers need assistance and support from their healthcare providers, families, communities, employers and government, so that they can provide their children the healthiest start to life. Together we can support them into breastfeeding, protect and help in ensuring the wellbeing of our future generations.”

Similarly, UNICEF Chief Field Officer in Borno State, Geoffrey Ijumba, has said the rates of exclusive breastfeeding among mothers in the Northeast are still dangerously low for infants taking refuge with mothers in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) camps.

Ijumba revealed this at the weekend during a joint launch of community campaign to promote and support breastfeeding, to mark this year’s World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) in Maiduguri.

Borno State Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Abubakar Hassan also said most of the IDPs in camps are women and nursing over 350, 000 children.

Ijumba explained that partners promoting the breastfeeding community campaigns are reaching out through the media by engaging traditional, religious and community leaders to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding.

“The breastfeeding campaign is to promote creation of supportive environment for women to breastfeed their children,” he said.

He noted that the youngest are the most vulnerable when families are displaced and food and health services become scarce.

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