It was excitement and fanfare last week at the area 2 Family Health Clinic, in Area 2, Abuja, when the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) celebrated the 2014 world breast feeding with a baby show, to showcase exclusively breast-fed babies.
The show, which was organized by the FCT Primary Health Care Development Board (PHCDB), as part of its activities to mark this year’s world breast feeding week, was to create awareness on promotion, protection and support of exclusive breast feeding in the Territory.
Specifically, the show provided rare opportunity to showcase exclusively breast-fed babies from different communities in the FCT, thereby creating effective awareness on the importance of breast feeding and breast milk in the overall development of children.
Aside the Baby show, other activities mapped for the celebrated included world pressing briefing, orientation of pregnant/nursing mothers, women, husbands, community members, support groups on exclusive breast feeding practices, infant and young child feeding practices.
For the mothers, it was a day of honour and appreciation for exclusively breast feeding their babies, which would spur them to even do more. It was quite revealing to note that there are still a few of them at a time there is low rate of breastfeeding mothers in Abuja.
Also, it served as an avenue to advocate for improved commitment from all tiers of government, policy makers, health care professionals, communities, families and the general public as well as the media towards the promotion of breast feeding campaign.
The first week of August every year is observed globally as International Breastfeeding week, to encourage exclusive breastfeeding by nursing mothers. The theme for this year breast feeding week, which is ” Breastfeeding: A winning goal for life”, with the slogan – “Breastfeeding: Score a Goal, Save a Life.”
Flagging off the show, the Executive Secretary, FCT PHCDB, Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed, reiterated that this year’s theme responds to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 2015 countdown and beyond by emphasizing on the importance, promotion and support for breast feeding, complementary feeding as well as other infant and young child feeding practices.
He noted that the Territory has joined the world to sensitise the public on the role of nutrition in meeting the 8th MDGs target, disclosing that 2015 is the bench-marked year set for achieving the goal.
According to him, activities to score a goal to save the FCT child deserves targeting use of cost effective strategy- breast milk (the best start in life), which is the most important child survival intervention in the region.
He added that the baby show was a key intervention strategy for achieving the MDGs 1 and 4 on eradication of extreme poverty and hunger as well as reduction of child mortality.
Nevertheless, he stressed the need toensure that all FCT women exclusively breast feed their babies, with support of the FCT their husbands, for at least six months, after which, the women can continue and use food and fruits as complementary feeding.
His words: “The only way we can score goal to save a child is to ensure that all FCT women breast feed their babies; and FCT men support their wives to breast feed exclusively for six months and even continue for two years and beyond.”
Furthermore, the Secretary, pointed out that babies who are adequately breast-fed, are exposed to adequate nourishment from their mothers, thereby having strong foundation laid for proper growth and development.
Frowning at the poor attitude of most nursing mothers towards exclusive six months breast feed, in the Territory, he lamented that the development has given rise to severe malnutrition among infants in the FCT, as according to him most Abuja mothers for reason best known to them, shy away from recommended breastfeeding culture.
The Secretary maintained that only 9 percent of nursing mothers especially high class mothers practices exclusive breast feeding in the nation’s capital.
He stressed the need for mothers to give breast milk to their newborn babies, as it contains all the nutrients including large percentage of water that babies need for optimal growth from 0-6months of life.
He disclosed that malnutrition was responsible for at least 35 per cent of deaths in children less than 5 years of age, despite that there is an alarming 5.5 percent fertility rate in the country.
According to him, infant mortality rate was 100 deaths per 1000 live births but decreased to 75 deaths per 1000 live births in 2008 report by the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS).
This figure, he said, further decreased to 69 deaths per 1000 live 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.
As part of the solution, he called on state governments and FCT to emulate Lagos state government that recently increased maternity leave for pregnant women to six months.
Also, he called on men (fathers) and other stakeholders in the FCT to support nursing mothers to breast feed exclusively for six months.
Highpoints of the show was a demonstration of several sources of complementary feeding for babies and screening of the 100 babies that participated at the event as well as presentation of prizes to three babies who emerged winners. While a three-month-old Wealth Orieke emerged first, the second position was clichéd by baby Rejoice Azaku, whereas baby Alvin Obaara came third. However, several consolation prizes were given to all the babies who took part at the show.