From Uche Uche, Damaturu.
As Yobe state joins other countries over the world to commemorate the 2018 world breast feeding week, the state commissioner of health, Dr. Muhammed Bello Kawuwa, has called on all stakeholders to be committed in the sensitization of families, especially mothers, to the importance of exclusive breast feeding of newborns for the first six months from birthn The Commissioner noted with regrets that present rate of 4.9 percent is dangerously low and thus called for an urgent attention and intervention.
He made the revelation and appeal yesterday during a press briefing, titled, “translating national recommendation into concrete practices, challenges and opportunities to improve breast feeding practices in emergencies situations in Yobe state, the event which took place at the conference hall of the Sani Abatcha specialist hospital in Damaturu, the state capital.
He blamed the Yobe situation on some myths and beliefs at the village level, and sometimes the health care system practices and some of the health professional that may not intentionally or unintentionally support optimal breast feeding practices.
According to him, “We receive reports that even in the remote villages, other milks are given to small babies…what is disheartening is that among poor mothers in urban and rural areas, there is the belief that infant formula is what they should be giving to their children”.
He therefore called on the stakeholders to support, help these mothers understand, appreciate, and be more aware on the importance of breast feeding and its benefits for the mother and the child especially during pre-natal and post-partum counseling, hospital practices, routine visits to health centers, community-based awareness and counselling activities, among other possible avenues and opportunities.
Giving emphasis on the theme, “breastfeeding: foundation for life”, the commissioner harped on the importance of breast feeding, stating that it prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensure food security for babies even in times of crisis.
“We have volumes of evidence that have proven breastfeeding benefits that no artificial milk or any other milk, for that matter, can possibly equal…essential vitamins, amino acids and antibodies that are naturally present in a mother’s breast milk help reduce the occurrence of ear and respiratory infections, diarrhea and meningitis, and are also credited with helping to protect children against allergies, asthma, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome,” he said.
He also pointed out that there are equally strong and consistent evidence which shows that artificial feeding such as formula milk, results in increased neonatal and child mortality, poor growth and nutrition status, lower scores on cognitive development and intelligence tests, interference with bonding between baby and mother, and increased risk of later chronic diseases including heart diseases, diabetes, some cancers and obesity.
He therefore urged that every local governments in the state to hold an event or multiple events to celebrate breastfeeding and highlight its many short and long-term benefits for both mother and child.