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Malnutrition: UNICEF urges health workers to promote, support breastfeeding



The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday urged health workers in Kaduna State to protect, promote and support breastfeeding as an effective strategy toward preventing malnutrition among children under five years.

Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, the Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, made the call at a one-day training of health workers in the state on Breastmilk Substitute (BMS) Code and its compliance.

The training was organised by the State Primary Health Care Board (SPHCB) in collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The training was supported by A global nutrition initiative, Alive & Thrive (A&T) under its Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) programme in Nigeria.

Ezeife said that the health workers can support, protect, and promote optimal breastfeeding practices by adherence to the Code on marketing of BMS products, particularly at health facilities.

She said that UNICEF was supporting the state government through the SPHB to implement the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI), designed to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding among mothers.

She described the BMS Code and the BFI as two sides of a coin initiated to ensure optimal breastfeeding practices for the nutritious and healthy wellbeing of infants and children under five years.

According to her, breast milk is supreme to all BMS products no matter how they are being marketed and promoted, as such, health workers should support mothers to optimally breastfeed their infants.

“Health workers need to know the provisions of the BMS Code and understand their role in supporting mothers to practice breastfeeding effectively.

“The health workers need to inform, help, and show mothers how to practice optimal breastfeeding beginning with early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months.

“This is because breastfeeding must be practiced in a certain way to get its full benefits and health workers have a critical role to play.

“This will keep pregnant and lactating mothers informed and equip them with sufficient knowledge on how to breastfeed effectively at the community and households’ levels.”

The nutrition specialist reiterated UNICEF commitment to partner with the state government and relevant stakeholders in promoting the wellbeing of women and children.

She commended the SPHCB, Alive & Thrive and NAFDAC for organising the straining, which she described as strategic in winning the war against malnutrition in Kaduna State.

On her part, Mrs Ramatu Haruna, State Nutrition Officer, SPHCB, also called on health workers to provide accurate information to caregivers to enable them practice optimal MIYCN.

Haruna also said that the health workers have a duty of helping mothers to practice early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and age-appropriate complementary feeding after six months.

“Health workers equally have a duty of protecting mothers from promoters of BMS which are superior to the nutritional content of breastmilk which provide all the nutrients and minerals a baby needs,” she said.

Philip Daniel Yatai

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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