A Nutrition Manager with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Kano Field Office, Elhaji Diop, says maternal breastfeeding decreases risk of breast cancer.
Diop disclosed this at the launching of ‘Stronger with Breast Milk Only” Campaign as part of the celebration of 2022 World Breastfeeding Week held in Mashi Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina State.
According to him, it also decreases the risk of ovarian cancer, postpartum depression, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes mellitus.
He explained that infants who were breastfed, had a decreased risk of atopic dermatitis and gastroenteritis and possessed a higher IQ later in life.
“Breastfeeding as we know plays an important role in managing malnutrition.”
He said It provided food security and reduced inequality, and It was the single most powerful means to fight poverty and disease.
“Despite the compelling evidence that breastfeeding contributes substantially to improve child survival and development, key messages have not reached communities.
“And the overall nutritional status of children in Katsina State has only slightly improved over the last decade.”
The UN nutritionist said the state was still among the country’s highest child mortality rates, stunting prevalence as well as some of the lowest rates of many recommended infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices.
“For instance, according to the recently launched 2021 MICS survey, exclusive breastfeeding rate in the state is 21.3 per cent, far below the national rate of 34 per cent.
“This means that only two out of 10 babies are exclusively breastfed in Katsina State,” Diop disclosed.
He added that breastfeeding benefitted the state by helping lower health care costs, increase educational attainment and ultimately boost productivity.
“There is evidence today that every N1,000 invested in supporting optimal breastfeeding, can generate an estimated N35,000 in economic returns for Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that breastfeeding is essential to the attainment of the SDGs in the country, and the Nigerian children hold the great future of this country.”
He said the best legacy for a Katsina State of our dreams was to invest in interventions that promoted, protected and acted for the 3Es of breastfeeding.
Diop said to ensure that the efforts were stepped up, UNICEF was calling upon governments and other stakeholders in the health and allied sectors to step up and support breastfeeding.