Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been ranked lowest in the country, in terms of nursing mothers, who exclusively breastfeed their babies for at least six months from birth.
According to a recent report by the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), only 9 per cent of nursing mothers in the nation’s capital breastfed their babies for the first six months of birth.
Executive Secretary of FCT Primary Health Care Development Board, Dr. Rilwan Mohammed who disclosed this while briefing newsmen, in Abuja, recently when it marked this year’s World Breast Feeding Week, said that the total breastfeeding rate in the country from the survey in 2013 stands at 17 per cent as against 13 per cent in 2012.
He however, attributed the low figure recorded in the nation’s capital to the increasing rate of high class nursing mothers, who shy away from practicing exclusive breast feeding for their new born babies.
Mohammed who described most nursing mothers in the FCT, as those who do not want their breasts to sag due to breastfeeding, decried that the development has given rise to severe malnutrition among infants.
Stressing that breast milk contains all the nutrients including large percentage of water that babies need for optimal growth from 0-6 months of life, the Secretary called on husbands in FCT to support their wives to breast feed their new born babies exclusively for the recommended six months.
He further disclosed that malnutrition was responsible for at least 35 per cent of deaths in children less than 5 years of age.
According to him, infant mortality rate was 100 deaths per 1000 live births but decreased to 75 deaths per 1000 live births in the 2008 NDHS.
This figure, he said, further decreased to 69 deaths per 1000 liver births noting that the survey revealed that maternal rate has risen to 576 per 100,000 live births from the 545 per 100,000 live births in 2008.
He added that the high fertility rate which stands at 5.5 percent according to the survey was alarming.
While calling on state governments and FCT Administration to emulate Lagos state government, which has increased maternity leave for pregnant women to six months and also decreed paternity leave for men.